Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies for Cervical Spinal Cord Injury
Doulames VM, Plant GW
Cervical-level injuries account for the majority of presented spinal cord injuries (SCIs) to date. Despite the increase in survival rates due to emergency medicine improvements, overall quality of life remains poor, with patients facing variable deficits in respiratory and motor function. Therapies aiming to ameliorate symptoms and restore function, even partially, are urgently needed. Current therapeutic avenues in SCI seek to increase regenerative capacities through trophic and immunomodulatory factors, provide scaffolding to bridge the lesion site and promote regeneration of native axons, and to replace SCI-lost neurons and glia via intraspinal transplantation. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a clinically viable means to accomplish this; they have no major ethical barriers, sources can be patient-matched and collected using non-invasive methods. In addition, the patient's own cells can be used to establish a starter population capable of producing multiple cell types. To date, there is only a limited pool of research examining iPSC-derived transplants in SCI-even less research that is specific to cervical injury. The purpose of the review herein is to explore both preclinical and clinical recent advances in iPSC therapies with a detailed focus on cervical spinal cord injury.