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What is the Triple Treatment Therapy Discovered by Miami Project Researchers?

In June 2004, Miami Project scientists showed that a never before tested triple combination strategy, when given shortly after injury, protected the spinal cord tissue from additional damage that normally occurs after the initial injury.

• The triple combination included 1) Schwann cells injected into the injury site 1 week after injury, 2) cyclic AMP injected above and below the injury site 1 week after injury, and 3) Rolipram given continuously under the skin beginning immediately after injury and continuing for 2 weeks.

• Schwann cells insulate (myelinate) individual nerve fibers, which is necessary for sending appropriate electrical signals throughout the nervous system.

• Cyclic AMP is a messenger molecule inside cells that stimulates a cascade of other molecules, include nerve growth promoting molecules in nerve cells.

• Rolipram is an anti-inflammatory drug. It acts by preventing the breakdown of cyclic AMP, which causes an accumulation of cyclic AMP levels within immune cells. Higher levels of cyclic AMP lead to a decrease in the production of molecules that stimulate the immune response (leading to a reduced immune response). Suppression of the immune response after SCI is protective to the nervous system because it reduces the amount of secondary tissue loss, thereby reducing the degree of functional loss.

RESULTS

• The triple combination strategy resulted in a greater degree of recovery of locomotor function than normally experienced after spinal cord injury.

• The triple combination strategy prevented some nerve fibers in the spinal cord from dying, which resulted in spared function.

• In addition, some nerve cells in a specific region of the brain (the brainstem) grew their fibers not only into and across the injured area containing the Schwann cell grafts, but also beyond that and into the part of the spinal cord below the injury.

  • In the triple-treated animals, the total number of Schwann cell myelinated nerve fibers in the graft area increased by 380-480 percent. The nerve growth beyond the injury and increase in myelinated fibers contributed to the additional functional recovery.

 

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