Michael Lane and Liang Qiang, Drexel University College of Medicine, Spinal Cord Research Center, Philadelphia, United States

Repair of the chronically injured spinal cord with cell therapy

Funded in: 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

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Problem: How to use cell repair strategies most efficiently

Target: Novel transplantation strategy

Goal: Novel insights into transplanted glial cells and latest in genetic conversions methods


Cell repair strategies have been used extensively to rescue tissue from progressive damage, promote spinal cord repair, and replace cells that are lost. However, each goal is best targeted at different times after injury. The present work will use a novel transplantation strategy to address this in a 2-stage process.

The first provides a cellular ‘bridge’ for spinal repair that supports growth across the injury site. The goal of this experiment is to transplant developing glial cells into the injured spinal cord, which have been shown to re-structure the injury site and promote repair.

The second stage occurs weeks later, when advanced genetic methods can be used to convert the transplanted glial cells into neurons. The goal of this highly innovative experiment is to provide a new population of cells that can connect with the injured spinal cord and promote further functional recovery.

This project will yield novel insights into how transplanted glial cells can be used to promote spinal cord repair and how the latest in genetic conversion methods can be used to change donor cell types and thus regulate their contribution to repair after injury.