Nerve damage breakthrough

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SHEFFIELD scientists have found a new way to grow cells to help repair nerve damage.

The development by researchers from Sheffield University could be a ‘vital step’ for treating patients.

The Sheffield team, led by Professor John Haycock, has developed a new technique with adult rat tissue.

It overcomes current problems with creating Schwann cells – taking less than half the time of existing methods and at a much lower cost.

Schwann cells are known to boost and amplify nerve growth in animal models, but their clinical use has been held back because they are difficult, time-consuming and costly to culture.

Existing methods for growing Schwann cells from adult tissue promote the growth of another type of cell, called fibroblasts.

Large amounts of tissue are needed at the outset, to grow sufficient cells for therapeutic use.