Stem cells were implanted into a paraplegic rat. Stem cells have potential to turn into diverse types of cells. They also can help repair tissue, and replace and replenish cells. As the stem cell divides, it can stay a cell, or become another type of cell. These new cells can serve distinct functions throughout the body such as muscle, blood, and brain cells. Knowing this, rats were then implanted with stem cells to see if recovery would occur. These rats could not walk and did not feel anything in the legs. Injuries such as these can come from spinal cord injuries, recovering from an injury resulting in you being paraplegic is typically very hard to do. Dr. Shulamit Levenberg, and the rest of the researches thought to implant human stem cells into these laboratory rats with a complete spinal cord transection. The stem cells that were implanted into the rats were used from a human mouth. The team built a 3D scaffold that let the cells turn into support cells. The cells were treated to be able to react well with the rat’s neurons. The rats that had the stem cells implanted showed recovery in sensory and motor skills. These rats also had remarkable growth in hind limbs and tail. Compared to the non-treated rats this was remarkable, since the non-treated rats had no improvement in their sensory and motor skills. Spinal cords for the implanted rats showed recovery.
Many stem cell implanted rats experienced rapid growth and recovery, there were others who did not. Researchers are still curious as to why stem cells worked on some rats, but not on others. This work is very important to figure out, because if we can learn how to perfect stem cell surgery on rats, then humans can potentially be new test subjects. Stem cells can help replenish many cells, and eventually lead to stopping or treating diseases.