Discovery of new cell may be key to treating incurable neurological diseases

Mark and Brenda Zimmer spend time together at their home in the Lewis Center in Ohio. Mark was diagnosed with ALS two years ago and is actively involved in clinical research to find effective treatments for the neurodegenerative disease. Credit: The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center

Research conducted by researchers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center offers new hope for recovery from degenerative neurological diseases such as ALS and multiple sclerosis, as well as damage caused by traumatic brain and spinal injuries and stroke.

Using a mouse model, researchers at Ohio State and the University of Michigan discovered a new type of immune cell that not only saves damaged nerve cells from death, but also partially reverses nerve fiber damage. The research team also identified a human immune cell line with similar properties that promote nervous system repair.

The study results will be published in the journal Nature Immunology.

“This subset of immune cells secretes growth factors that improve nerve cell survival after a traumatic injury to the central nervous system. It stimulates severed nerve fibers to regrow in the central nervous system, which is truly unprecedented,” said Dr. Benjamin Segal, professor and chairman of the department of neurology at Ohio State College of Medicine and co-director of the Neurological Institute at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. “In the future, this line of research could ultimately lead to the development of novel cell-based therapies that restore lost neurological function under a range of conditions.”

Research conducted by researchers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center offers new hope for recovery from degenerative neurological diseases such as ALS and multiple sclerosis, as well as damage from traumatic brain and spinal injuries and strokes. Photo credit: Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University

The cell discovered by these researchers is a granulocyte, a type of white blood cell with tiny granules. The most common granulocytes, neutrophils, usually help the body fight off infection. The unique cell type resembles an immature neutrophil, but is characterized by neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties. It drives the regrowth of axons (nerves) of the central nervous system in vivo, partly through the secretion of a cocktail of growth factors.

“We found that this pro-regenerative neutrophil promotes repair in the optic nerve and spinal cord, demonstrating its relevance to CNS compartments and neuronal populations. A human cell line with features of immature neutrophils also demonstrated neuroregenerative capacity, suggesting that our observations could. ” translatable into the clinic, “said first author Dr. Andrew Sas, assistant professor and physician in the Ohio State Department of Neurology.

The researchers demonstrated the therapeutic efficacy of the immature neutrophil subgroup by injecting them into mice with a crush injury to the optic nerve or injured nerve fibers in the spinal cord. Mice injected with the new neutrophil subset but not more typical mature neutrophils grew new nerve fibers.

The discovery of new cells can be the key to treating incurable neurological diseases
A neurological research team led by Dr. Benjamin Segal (front) of Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center has discovered a type of immune cell that may be key to treating neurological diseases and damage previously thought to be permanent. Credit: The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center

“I treat patients with persistent neurological deficits and they have to deal with debilitating symptoms every day. The opportunity to reverse these deficits and improve the quality of life for people with neurological disorders is very exciting,” said Dr. Segal Director of the Ohio State Neuroscience Research Institute. “There is so much that we are learning at the bank that has not yet been translated into the clinic. I think there is great potential for future medical breakthroughs in our field.”

The next step is to use this cell and expand it in a laboratory to improve its healing properties. The researchers hope that these cells can then be injected into patients to improve function and mobility, and to slow or stop progressive neurological decline.

“Our results could ultimately lead to the development of novel immunotherapies that reverse central nervous system damage and restore lost neurological function in a spectrum of diseases,” said Sas.

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More information:
A New Subset of Neutrophils Promotes CNS Neuron Survival and Axon Regeneration, Nature Immunology (2020). DOI: 10.1038 / s41590-020-00813-0, www.nature.com/articles/s41590-020-00813-0 Provided by Ohio State University

Quote: The discovery of new cells may be the key to treating incurable neurological diseases (2020, October 26th), which will be released on October 26, 2020 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-10-discovery-cell-key-incurable -neurological.html were retrieved

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