Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)

A spinal cord injury (SCI) is characterized by damage to the spinal cord that causes temporary or permanent changes to its ability to conduct electrical activity. Symptoms may include deficits in sensation, motor function, and/or autonomic function. Spinal cord injuries are generally divided into complete (total loss of sensation/motor function) or incomplete injuries (decreases in sensation/motor function).

Spinal cord injuries are normally caused by physical trauma, but can also result from infection, stroke, or tumors.

Conventional treatment for spinal cord injuries include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and pain medications. Recent developments in technology have also implemented epidural electrical spinal stimulation and wearable robotic exoskeletons.

Many researchers are looking toward stem cell therapy to try and repair and regenerate the damaged spinal cord tissue. Currently, the goal of stem cell treatment for SCI is to improve quality of life by increasing electrical signal within the spinal cord and thus improving muscle function, strength and tone.

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The most current research regarding stem cells and SCI is given below:

Repeated injections of human umbilical cord blood-derived mesenchymal stem cells significantly promotes functional recovery in rabbits with spinal cord injury of two noncontinuous segments
Chaohua Yang,1 Gaoju Wang,1 Fenfen Ma,2 Baoqing Yu,3 Fancheng Chen,3 Jin Yang,1 Jianjun Feng,#3 and Qing Wang#1

Abstract: Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are sustained by an increasing number of patients each year worldwide. The treatment of SCIs has long been a hard nut to crack for doctors around the world. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have shown benefits for the repair of SCI and recovery of function. Our present study aims to investigate the effects of intravenously infused human umbilical cord blood-derived MSCs (hUCB-MSCs) on functional recovery after subacute spinal cord compression injury of two noncontinuous segments. In addition, we compared the effects of single infusion and repeated intravenous (i.v.) injections on the recovery of spinal cord function.


Roles of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Spinal Cord Injury
Jing Qu and Huanxiang Zhang

Abstract: Spinal cord injury (SCI) represents one of the most complicated and heterogeneous pathological processes of central nervous system (CNS) impairments, which is still beyond functional regeneration. Transplantation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) has been shown to promote the repair of the injured spinal cord tissues in animal models, and therefore, there is much interest in the clinical use of these cells. However, many questions which are essential to improve the therapy effects remain unanswered. For instance, the functional roles and related molecular regulatory mechanisms of MSCs in vivo are not yet completely determined. It is important for transplanted cells to migrate into the injured tissue, to survive and undergo neural differentiation, or to play neural protection roles by various mechanisms after SCI. In this review, we will focus on some of the recent knowledge about the biological behavior and function of MSCs in SCI. Meanwhile, we highlight the function of biomaterials to direct the behavior of MSCs based on our series of work on silk fibroin biomaterials and attempt to emphasize combinational strategies such as tissue engineering for functional improvement of SCI.