Spinal Cord Injury Program
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating condition that impacts young and all people alike. SCI is complex and multifaceted with three major obstacles to therapy: loss of neurons, production of an impenetrable glial scar and loss of key insulating cells called oligodendrocytes. Stem cells overcome these problems to carry out repair and regeneration in many animals but in mammals like mice or humans resident stem cells are inhibited and remain dormant after injury. Researchers have found that injecting new stem cells into injured spinal cord produces remarkable results allowing paralyzed mice to walk again. Beyond such replacement therapy, it is possible to activate the dormant, resident stem cells within the spinal cord to stimulate natural repair. NSCI research has shown that small biodegradable beads that release stem cell activating factor stimulates resident stem cells to mediate repair and regeneration, and reverse paralysis. Stembeads are a novel bioengineered method to reawaken endogenous stem cells from dormancy and instruct them to promote repair and regeneration. NSCI is poised to move this exciting finding from laboratory mice to the bedside.