Clinical Trials of Stem Cell Treatment for Spinal Cord Injury

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jun 2;21(11):3994. doi: 10.3390/ijms21113994.


There are more than one million patients worldwide suffering paralysis caused by spinal cord injury (SCI). SCI causes severe socioeconomic problems not only to the patients and their caregivers but also to society; therefore, the development of innovative treatments is crucial. Many pharmacological therapies have been attempted in an effort to reduce SCI-related damage; however, no single therapy that could dramatically improve the serious long-term sequelae of SCI has emerged. Stem cell transplantation therapy, which can ameliorate damage or regenerate neurological networks, has been proposed as a promising candidate for SCI treatment, and many basic and clinical experiments using stem cells for SCI treatment have been launched, with promising results. However, the cell transplantation methods, including cell type, dose, transplantation route, and transplantation timing, vary widely between trials, and there is no consensus regarding the most effective treatment strategy. This study reviews the current knowledge on this issue, with a special focus on the clinical trials that have used stem cells for treating SCI, and highlights the problems that remain to be solved before the widespread clinical use of stem cells can be adopted.

Keywords: inflammation; neurogenesis; regenerative medicine; spinal cord injury; stem cell; transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology
  • Inflammation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neurogenesis
  • Recovery of Function
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Spinal Cord / cytology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / therapy*