Asterias Biotherapeutics, is being awarded $14.3 million by CIRM to test oligodendrocyte progenitor cells or OPCs in SCI
OPCs have two important functions in the body; they help stimulate the growth of nerve cells after an injury, and they produce myelin, a kind of insulation that conducts electrical signals in the spine. It’s hoped that transplanting OPCs to the site of a spinal cord injury could help restore some function to the patient. These cells were tested in a first-in-human trial in 2010 under Geron with a simple goal of assessing the safety of this approach. Five patients with lower spinal cord injury were transplanted with no signs of serious side effects or safety concerns.