Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine led a study in which rats were injected with one dose of human neural stem cells which produced improvement of function and mobility, as well as neuronal regeneration in the rats that had an acute spinal cord injury. According to Dr. Martin Marsala, MD, professor of Anesthesiology with colleagues at the University of California, grafting neural stem cells that were derived from a human fetal spinal cord and transferring them to the rats spinal injury site had many therapeutic benefits, ranging from less spasticity of muscles to new connections between the injected stem cells and surviving neurons within the rats. The scientists reported that the human stem cells seemed to take root vigorously at the injury site, aiding the recovery process along to the point where any cavities or cysts that formed at the injury site would disappear when grafted cells were injected.
    The rats received the stem cells exactly three days after sustaining the spinal injury, in addition to several drugs that lessened the immune response of the rats so that their bodies would properly accept the stem calls. The stem cells appeared to stimulate the rat’s neuron regeneration, as well as partially replacing functionality of lost neurons. The rats had greater control of their paws, and overall would now have a much greater quality of life.
    With this knowledge in hand, scientists are working to develop neural precursor cells that could potentially become any one of the three cell types found in the nervous system, leading to induced pluripotent stem cells, which when taken from the patient would aid greatly in the process of spinal injury procedures and treatments.  
    Sources:
1)    Sebastiaan van Gorp, Marjolein Leerink, Osamu Kakinohana, Oleksandr Platoshyn, Camila Santucci, Jan Galik, Elbert A Joosten, Marian Hruska-Plochan, Danielle Goldberg, Silvia Marsala, Karl Johe, Joseph D Ciacci, Martin Marsala. Amelioration of motor/sensory dysfunction and spasticity in a rat model of acute lumbar spinal cord injury by human neural stem cell transplantation. Stem Cell Research & Therapy, 2013; 4 (5): 57 DOI: 10.1186/scrt209
2)    University of California - San Diego (2013, May 27). Stem cell injections improve spinal injuries in rats. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 28, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2013/05/130527231843.htm