Science without fiction

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Last week, we hosted the 7th Wings for Life symposium in Salzburg. 78 scientists from across the world came together to present current findings and potential treatments for spinal cord injuries.

”Scientists have to be in contact with the outside world. Normally we work in our own labs being creative on our own ideas but we also have to come together to share them. When we explain our ideas and talk to each other, it improves our own work.”

The jam-packed symposium was divided into six sessions and the scientists showcased their work either in a 20-minute lecture or by presenting a poster.

”At this meeting, knowledge is presented that has not been published yet.”

It would go beyond the scope of this article to report in detail but we would like to give you an insight:

One of the sessions was on axon regeneration. The scientists presented various approaches to stimulate the intrinsic regeneration capacity of injured axons. In other words: What needs to be done to accelerate the natural axon regeneration? In response, Prof. Cartoni from the Children’s Hospital in Boston is able to demonstrate that a boost of mitochondria transportation (the powerhouse of the cell) can also increase axonal regeneration.

Biomaterial was the topic of another session. The scientists demonstrated that new bioengineered hydrogels coupled with specific molecules could not only fill the cavity in the damaged spinal cord but also enable cell survival and axon regeneration.

”Specialists from different disciplines are coming together to inform each other about their latest research findings. It is important to benefit from each other and speak the same language.”

Other sessions were no less exciting and covered research projects to reduce the secondary damage after spinal cord injury, rehabilitation approaches or new technologies to visualize spinal traumas. Additionally, two guest speakers from Germany and the U.S. held interesting lectures about Neuroinflammation (inflammation of the nervous tissue) and stem cells.

This year’s symposium showed us again how important it is to bring the researchers together. Sharing results and exchanging ideas promotes scientific progress and at the end benefits people living with spinal cord injury.

Photos: David Robinson