Spinal Cord Injury: New Device Helps in Nerve Regeneration

In a development that could help researchers looking for ways to use non-embryonic stem cells to promote regeneration of nerves in spinal cord injury, a magnetic field generator shows promise.

A magnetic field device called Cells Alive System (CAS) may be useful for preserving human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neural stem/progenitor cells (hiPSC-NS/Pcs), which would allow scientists to bank them for clinical use, according to recent research. The study was conducted by Yuichiro Nishiyama of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues, and was published in Neuroscience Research on January 22, 2016.

Neural stem cells and progenitor cells (NS/PCs) provide options for regenerative medical applications, but since they come from human fetus or embryonic stem cells, the authors say, “harvesting of such cells from a human fetus confronts legal and ethical challenges in many countries.” They suggest that human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are “an attractive alternative cell source due to their ease of generation and comparative lack of ethical baggage.”

The researchers say this study on using “CAS to cryopreserve hiPSC-NS/PCs” was conducted to determine “a simple, optimized method designed for clinical use of these cells with improved cell viability without detrimental impact on cell properties.” They began by culturing and freezing hiPSC-NS/PCs, then tested their survival rate and viability.

“In the present study, we showed an improvement in cell viability using CAS under specific conditions. There was significant viability among the different CAS conditions and the freezing container,” the researchers said. They go on to say that cell proliferation and differentiation ability were not affected by CAS. Future clinical studies that will include transplanting cells immediately after thawing to patients with spinal cord injuries. The researchers conclude, “CAS cryopreservation dramatically improved cell survival immediately after thawing and did not significantly affect proliferation.”