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. 2018 Jun 15;19(6):1776.
doi: 10.3390/ijms19061776.

Translational Regenerative Therapies for Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Free PMC article

Translational Regenerative Therapies for Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Kyriakos Dalamagkas et al. Int J Mol Sci. .
Free PMC article


Spinal cord injury is a chronic and debilitating neurological condition that is currently being managed symptomatically with no real therapeutic strategies available. Even though there is no consensus on the best time to start interventions, the chronic phase is definitely the most stable target in order to determine whether a therapy can effectively restore neurological function. The advancements of nanoscience and stem cell technology, combined with the powerful, novel neuroimaging modalities that have arisen can now accelerate the path of promising novel therapeutic strategies from bench to bedside. Several types of stem cells have reached up to clinical trials phase II, including adult neural stem cells, human spinal cord stem cells, olfactory ensheathing cells, autologous Schwann cells, umbilical cord blood-derived mononuclear cells, adult mesenchymal cells, and autologous bone-marrow-derived stem cells. There also have been combinations of different molecular therapies; these have been either alone or combined with supportive scaffolds with nanostructures to facilitate favorable cell⁻material interactions. The results already show promise but it will take some coordinated actions in order to develop a proper step-by-step approach to solve impactful problems with neural repair.

Keywords: biomaterials; central nervous system; chronic spinal cord injury; molecular therapies; nanomaterial; nanotechnology; neuroregeneration; stem cells.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


Figure 1
Figure 1
This is a schematic representation of the cascade of events that are included in the pathophysiological response to a spinal cord injury induced by a mechanical trauma. All the phases from the acute to the sub-acute and chronic SCI are being depicted until cavitation occurs in the lesion site and the glial scar forms. Abbreviations used: IL-1α: Interleukin 1α; IL-1β: Interleukin 1β; IL-6: Interleukin 6; TNF-α: Tumor Necrosis Factor α. Figure reprinted with permission from “Nanofiber Scaffolds as Drug Delivery Systems to Bridge Spinal Cord Injury” by Faccendini et al., Pharmaceuticals 2017, 10, 63, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license [4].
Figure 2
Figure 2
Schematic diagram shows steps of the treatment of Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) in a male patient who was paralyzed due to knife injury in 2010. He was treated with Olfactory Ensheathing Cells (OECs), a type of cell which is produced at the base of brain and through which human beings get their sense of smell. The surgeon extracted OECs from the nasal cavity and cultured those in the lab. Then nerve grafts were extracted from the ankle of the patient to support the regeneration of severed spinal cord nerve fibers to fill the spinal cavity. Both nerve grafts and stem cells were injected into the spinal cord injured site of the patient. This figure is also available online:

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