Researchers at Northwestern University’s Institute for Cell Engineering are concentrating on progress with Bone Morphogenetic Proteins as a means of making a major breakthrough in recovery for victims of spinal cord injuries. As Northwestern’s research experts continue to learn about these complex proteins, they are discovering more and more ways in which they are beneficial in repairing spinal cords after traumatic accidents and injuries.
With the influence of the BMPs in a damaged spine, the body’s natural inclination to produce inflammation around the damaged nerves is reduced, allowing the regular production and revival of the nerve axons that are necessary for recovery. A damaged spine has an inexplicable declination to recovery, as if the body simply stops paying attention to it. The BMPs are, figuratively speaking, a second wind that influences the immune system to begin healing the spinal cord and damaged nerves and tissues.
Because the BMPs are effective at limiting astrocytes, which are the cause for the excessive swelling after spinal damage, Northwestern’s researchers are trying to find a way to create more BMPs to overwhelmingly control the astrocytes and help prevent irreversible damage. And they hope to find their answer in the stem cells of various mice with spine damage.
Each member of the team at Northwestern examines different types of stem cells in different mice and surveys the results of each with the common goal that one type of stem cell will instigate rapid reproduction of BMPs in one tiny rodent’s injured spine. However, this necessity of teamwork became evident as they discovered that influencing the BMP count of the mice had side effects. Some mice have been reacting differently with the subtraction of BMP receptors, raising the collective eyebrow of the research team.
The new mission for the Northwestern researchers is to find out if the extreme addition of BMPs to the mice will affect them in similar or other ways as the subtraction of the proteins.