On September 13, Neuralstem Inc. in Rockville, Maryland announced astounding findings that concluded research revolving around neural stem cell transplants. Transplantation occurred via injection after scientists initially surgically transected the spinal cords of laboratory rats, causing permanent paraplegia, according to a report by the Herald Online. To the delight of the researchers, the cells multiplied, transformed into neurons and produced axons. The growth expanded well beyond the boundaries of the injuries by extending from the cervical region of the spine down to the lumbar area. The new neurons also connected with existing spinal cells forming new connections. Scientists surgically altered the spines of 12 rats at the thoracic level. After seven days, researchers injected half of the rats with stem cells and monitored the progress of both groups over a span of seven weeks. Chief Scientific Officer and Chairman of the Neuralstem’s Board of Directors, Karl Johe, PhD explains that following spinal cord trauma, cells below the injury quickly die, which previously meant lifelong disability. During the study, researchers discovered that over half of the transplanted cells progressed to the point of establishing communication with existing cells above and below the injury. After seven weeks, the rats receiving transplants regained partial motor function because of stem cell regeneration. The exclusive technology possessed by Neuralstem provides researchers with the ability of mass-producing human brain and spinal cells. The company received FDA approval for using the neural stem cells, named NSI-566, in the first phase of a clinical trial designed for treating patients suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as ALS. The initial phase introduced neural stem cells into the lumbar regions of 12 ambulatory and non-ambulatory ALS patients. After 18 months, none of the participants displayed progressive symptoms of the disease and one patient experienced improvement. The next phase of the study involves injecting the cells into the cervical area of the spine, which scientists hope will prevent the respiratory paralysis that occurs during the progressive process of the disease. Besides offering hope for ALS patients, the Neuralstem plans on furthering NSI-566 research into the fields of chronic stroke, ischemic spastic paraplegia and spinal cord injury. The company also acquired a contract from the Department of Defense for studies concerning brain tumors. By specially engineering stem cells, Dr. Johe states that proposed therapy effects brain tumors in three ways. Cells equipped with specific antibodies, enzymes and anti-angiogenic proteins suppress tumor growth, kill tumor cells and starve targeted cells by preventing blood vessel formation. Researchers hope to submit the stem cell product to the FDA for approval before the end of 2015. Other ambitious endeavors occurring in the research department of Neuralstem include the development of a small compound called NSI-189. Researchers designed the compound for the express purpose of stimulating neuron regeneration and combating the pathologies that cause various central nervous system conditions. Currently undergoing safety trial evaluations, the compound may successfully treat Alzheimer’s disease, depressive disorders and traumatic encephalopathy.