Transplanting Neural Progenitor Cells to Restore Connectivity After Spinal Cord Injury
Fischer Itzhak, Jennifer N Dulin, Michael A Lane
Spinal cord injury remains a scientific and therapeutic challenge with great cost to individuals and society. The goal of research in this field is to find a means of restoring lost function. Recently we have seen considerable progress in understanding the injury process and the capacity of CNS neurons to regenerate, as well as innovations in stem cell biology. This presents an opportunity to develop effective transplantation strategies to provide new neural cells to promote the formation of new neuronal networks and functional connectivity. Past and ongoing clinical studies have demonstrated the safety of cell therapy, and preclinical research has used models of spinal cord injury to better elucidate the underlying mechanisms through which donor cells interact with the host and thus increase long-term efficacy. While a variety of cell therapies have been explored, we focus here on the use of neural progenitor cells obtained or derived from different sources to promote connectivity in sensory, motor and autonomic systems.