Human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cells: Preclinical Efficacy and Safety in Cervical Spinal Cord Injury

Stem Cells Transl Med. 2017 Oct;6(10):1917-1929. doi: 10.1002/sctm.17-0065. Epub 2017 Aug 22.


Cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) remains an important research focus for regenerative medicine given the potential for severe functional deficits and the current lack of treatment options to augment neurological recovery. We recently reported the preclinical safety data of a human embryonic cell-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor cell (OPC) therapy that supported initiation of a phase I clinical trial for patients with sensorimotor complete thoracic SCI. To support the clinical use of this OPC therapy for cervical injuries, we conducted preclinical efficacy and safety testing of the OPCs in a nude rat model of cervical SCI. Using the automated TreadScan system to track motor behavioral recovery, we found that OPCs significantly improved locomotor performance when administered directly into the cervical spinal cord 1 week after injury, and that this functional improvement was associated with reduced parenchymal cavitation and increased sparing of myelinated axons within the injury site. Based on large scale biodistribution and toxicology studies, we show that OPC migration is limited to the spinal cord and brainstem and did not cause any adverse clinical observations, toxicities, allodynia, or tumors. In combination with previously published efficacy and safety data, the results presented here supported initiation of a phase I/IIa clinical trial in the U.S. for patients with sensorimotor complete cervical SCI. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2017;6:1917-1929.

Keywords: Cervical spinal cord injury; Clinical trial; Human embryonic stem cell; Oligodendrocyte progenitor cell; Preclinical; Spinal cord injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries
  • Female
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology
  • Neural Stem Cells / transplantation*
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology
  • Oligodendroglia / transplantation*
  • Rats
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods