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Olfactory Cells Hold Hope



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Olfactory Cells Hold Hope

Olfactory cells could help repair damaged spinal cords, according to Yale Professor Charles Greer, director of Yale’s Spinal Cord Research Program.

Nose axons possess plasticity – that is, they are able to regenerate themselves and adapt to changes in their environment. The scientists hope that this will enable the cells to serve as a bridge, linking severed spinal cord cells. They have found that particular olfactory cell systems – the ensheathing cells – act as a guide for the nerve cells, accompanying and directing them across areas that are resistant to nerve cell growth.

The hope is that if ensheathing cells are transplanted into a damaged spinal cord, they will increase the likelihood of the nerve cells surviving and functioning, possibly reversing neurological problems, such as paralysis, that result from spinal cord injury.

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