Researchers at the University of California stumbled upon an unexpected outcome while studying the common problem of stem cell rejection following transplantation. Scientists injected human neural precursor cells (hNPCs) derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into the spinal cords of mice infected with the neurotropic JHM strain of mouse hepatitis virus (JMHV) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11935460 . Persistent infection with this particular virus causes an MS-like condition in mice characterized by demyelination, neuroinflammation, and hind-limb paralysis.
As expected, the stem cells injected into the JHMV-infected mice were completely rejected by the immune system within 8 days. However, unexpectedly, the hNPC-transplanted mice experienced improved motor skills and a reduction in neuroinflammation and demyelination about two weeks after the injections. Results of a follow-up study cofunded by the National MS Society and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine are published in the journal Stem Cell Reports in the article, “Human Neural Precursor Cells Promote Neurologic Recovery in a Viral Model of Multiple Sclerosis.”
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Mice with MS-like Disease Unexpectedly Walk After Stem Cell Transplantation