Prof. Dr. Dr. Jan Schwab
Prof. Dr. Dr. Jan Schwab  © Romina Amato

Wings for Life Scientific Meeting 2012


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For the 4th year in a row, Wings for Life hosted an international scientific meeting in Salzburg last week. 35 scientists of well-respected university hospitals and research institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Charité Berlin came together and presented the latest developments and projects in the field of spinal cord research.

”The aim of our annual conference is to share international scientific knowledge between the experts”, said Prof. Dr. Ludwig Aigner, stem cell scientist and member of the Wings for Life directory board. “We want to make sure that knowledge is shared so researchers do not have to repeat the work of others.”

Reflecting the complexity of spinal cord injury research, the talks covered a broad spectrum of topics. Wings for Life scientists and guests talked about rehabilitation, axon regeneration, neuroreconstructive therapies, remyelination, compensatory approaches and neuronal protection. “We have gathered a large knowledge base over the past few last years. This needs to be transferred into the clinic in the future so we can measure impact on patients” commented Prof. Dr. Dr. Jan Schwab, neurologist of the Charité Berlin and board member for research at Wings for Life.

Another area of research is pharmacological treatments for patients with an acute spinal cord injury. A study from Calgary has shown that the compound minocycline had a neuroprotective effect, reducing the extent of progressive tissue loss after an injury. As a result of taking this drug, bodily functions can be preserved. ”This suggests that with the right treatment patients with acute spinal cord injury may be able to escape the wheelchair”, said Wings for Life founder Heinz Kinigadner.

At the end of the two days, an open session was held for public audience with questions about the state of research. Experts made themselves available to answer the questions asked by those affected by spinal cord injury and their relatives. Ulrike Esslmaier, who has been in a wheelchair since 2011, said: “The results give me hope and make me keen to continue rehab. I’ll keep my body on stand-by, until a cure is found.”

Photo Credit: Romina Amato

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