Michael Fehlings, University Health Network, Genetics and Development, Toronto, Canada

Specific integration of neural stem cells through robot-assisted neurorehabilitation

Funded in: 2021, 2022, 2023

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Problem: Treatment limited to surgery and rehabilitation
Target: Combining rehabilitation and neural stem cell transplantation
Goal: Maximize repair and regeneration to improve functional recovery

Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating and debilitating injury. Clinical treatment is currently limited to surgery and rehabilitation. Neural Stem Cells (NSCs) are cells that can generate the building blocks of the nervous system and their transplantation into the spinal cord is a promising treatment strategy to repair and regenerate the injured tissue. Rehabilitation is another approach that is currently being applied to SCI patients to improve their functional recovery.

In this project, the researchers aim to determine if they can combine rehabilitation and NSC transplantation after chronic SCI. By this they aim at maximizing the potential of stem cells to improve functional recovery. Here the scientists use a specific type of NSC that they have specifically designed to repair the injured spinal cord. Their hope and expectation is that by combining the novel stem cells together with a novel rehabilitation protocol, the neuroscientists will maximize the repair and regeneration of the injured spinal cord resulting in restoration in function of neural networks. They are confident that this work will pave the way for new stem cell-based treatment options for SCI.