In a recent article on PhysOrg.com, MIT researchers are spotlighted for finding stem cells in the spinal cord that may be able to be pushed to turn into healing cells instead of scarring cells. This would help with the development of non-surgical treatments for spinal cord injuries (SCI).
The stem cells under consideration are called ependymal cells. On their own they are slow to proliferate and promote regeneration on their own, but when grown in a lab they have been found to restore some degree of function in paralyzed rodents and primates.
According to the article, the ependymal cells migrate to the injured area of the spine, producing a mass of scar-forming cells along with beneficial healing cells called oligodendrocytes. The oligodendrocytes produce myelin, a nerve coating of sorts that helps to insulate nerves, helping their function to improve.
If you want to read the original study, check out the July issue of PLoS Biology. The article is by Konstantinos Meletis.