UPSALLA, Sweden, June 8 (UPI) -- Spinal cord injury patients who have lost function and feeling to their arms and hands have been shown to regenerate nerve fibers that return the sense of touch through stem cell treatment.
Spinal cord injuries often lead to paralysis, sensory loss and chronic pain conditions. Although surgery can restore certain muscle function, there has previously been little treatment available for lost sensory perception.
In the new study, students at Uppsala University in Sweden transplanted human stem cells hoping nerves would regenerate, returning function.
The stem cells developed into various types of cells specific to the nervous system and acted as a bridge, allowing sensory nerve fibers to grow into the spinal cord, regeneration of functional nerve connections and an expectation for sense function to return over time, according to a press release.
Researchers also noted that there was no sign of tumor development or malfunction, both of which are concerns when using stem cell therapies.
"These results provide a rationale for the development of novel stem cell-based strategies for functionally useful bridging of the peripheral and central nervous system," researchers wrote in the study.
The study is published in Scientific Reports.