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Are Schwann Cells Useful for Repairing the Damaged Spinal Cord?

Yes. Schwann cells have been transplanted into spinal cord injury (SCI) sites for many years and by many people.

We now know that after SCI, Schwann cells:

  • Produce growth factors, which stimulate some nerve fiber (axon) regeneration
  • Produce components of the extracellular matrix, which supports regenerating axons
  • Surround and re-insulate (re-myelinate) axons that lost their insulation after injury
  • Restore axonal communication upon re-myelination.
  • Spontaneously enter the spinal cord after SCI
  • Are readily accessible be performing a biopsy of a small nerve in the leg
  • Can be obtained in large numbers from such biopsies
  • Can be genetically engineered (“supped up”) to produce more molecules that stimulate or support regeneration
  • Can be transplanted autologously (from yourself)

 

SCHWANN CELLS

FACULTY STUDYING SCHWANN CELLS

Mary Bartlett Bunge, Ph.D.
Schwann Cells insulating axons

James D. Guest, M.D., Ph.D.
Schwann Cells in culture

Allan D. Levi, M.D., Ph.D.
Schwann Cells in peripheral nerve.

Paula V. Monje, Ph.D.
Immature Schwann Cell and Differentiated Schwann Cells

Damien D. Pearse, Ph.D.
Schwann Cells associating with axons

Patrick M. Wood, Ph.D.
Human Schwann Cells