Michael V. Sofroniew, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Bridging the broken path: Microprosthesis to replace damaged tissue and stimulate healing of the damaged spinal cord

Funded in: 2009, 2010, 2011

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Spinal cord injury causes persistent functional lost (movement and sensation) through the loss of axonal connections. After the injury, the neurons attempt to regenerate (re-wire the spinal cord). Even though they have a limited capacity, they are also repulsed by their environmental milieu.

Here, at site of injury of a structure called “fibrous scar” is formed which then acts as a physical barrier to the neurons regeneration. The objective of this work is to implant synthetic “bridges” (hydrogel scaffold) that will create a hole in the fibrous scar barrier and will on a first step attract regenerating neurons.

These synthetic bridges (fluid neuroprosthetics) will also release compounds that will on a second step “push” the neurons to grow out and to re-wire the spinal cord.