Armin Blesch, University of California, San Diego, USA

Lentiviral BDNF gene transfer for axonal bridging in the injured spinal cord

Funded in: 2008, 2009, 2010

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If cells which produce nerve growth factors are transplanted into the severed spinal cord, they can stimulate the regeneration of nerve cells. However, severed fibres which start growing again cannot reproduce connections beyond the injury site. Therefore, this new project applies a combination of cell transplantation and gene therapy. Cells which are taken from bone marrow and cultivated are transplanted directly into the spinal cord injury. These cells stimulate the growth of nerve fibres in the injured part of the spinal cord. The combined gene therapy forms local sources of the growth factor BDNF underneath the spinal cord injury. These may allow the severed nerve fibres to continue to grow and form a bridge to the injured area.