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Spinal Cord Regeneration: Hope for the future

InBrief

by Zachary A. Knecht, PhD


Although made a cliché by TV medical dramas, “you’ll never walk again” remains a harsh reality for victims of spinal-cord injury (SCI). In a split second, victims can go from moving normally to being permanently paralyzed and often requiring aid just to breathe.


Our resilient bodies routinely mend broken bones and seal wounds, yet the ability of the body to recover from so devastating an injury has long been beyond our reach. Regenerating damaged tissue of the central nervous system and restoring function in SCI patients is a goal that has captivated medical science for over 100 years.



Now, recent therapeutic successes and insights into the underlying biology of the spinal cord have closed the gap between the field of regenerative medicine and restoring movement in paralyzed people...


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zachary A. Knecht, PhD

Dr. Knecht earned his PhD in Neurobiology at Brandeis University and currently works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge. His research involves understanding the molecular and cellular basis of tissue regeneration. Outside the lab he enjoys hiking, cooking and spending time with his wife and dog.


References

  1. Tabakow P, Raisman G, Fortuna W, et al. Functional regeneration of supraspinal connections in a patient with transected spinal cord following transplantation of bulbar olfactory ensheathing cells with peripheral nerve bridging. Cell Transplant. 2014;23: 1631–1655.

  2. Nakhjavan-Shahraki B, Yousefifard M, Rahimi-Movaghar V, et al. Transplantation of olfactory ensheathing cells on functional recovery and neuropathic pain after spinal cord injury; systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2018;8:325.

  3. Sofroniew MV. Dissecting spinal cord regeneration. Nature. 2018;557:343–350.

  4. Dalamagkas K, Tsintou M, Seifalian A, Seifalian AM. Translational regenerative therapies for chronic spinal cord injury. Int J Mol Sci. 2018;19(6). pii: E1776.

  5. Theodore N, Hlubek R, Danielson J, Neff K, Vaickus L, Ulich TR, Ropper AE. First human implantation of a bioresorbable polymer scaffold for acute traumatic spinal cord injury: a clinical pilot study for safety and feasibility. Neurosurgery. 2016;79:E305-E312.


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