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J Neurosci. 2007 Oct 31;27(44):11782-92.

Spinal cord injury: time to move?

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Department of Physiology and Groupe de Recherche sur le Système Nerveux Central, University of Montreal, Faculty of Medicine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3C 3J7.


This symposium aims at summarizing some of the scientific bases for current or planned clinical trials in patients with spinal cord injury (SCI). It stems from the interactions of four researchers involved in basic and clinical research who presented their work at a dedicated Symposium of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego. After SCI, primary and secondary damage occurs and several endogenous processes are triggered that may foster or hinder axonal reconnection from supralesional structures. Studies in animals show that some of these processes can be enhanced or decreased by exogenous interventions using drugs to diminish repulsive barriers (anti-Nogo, anti-Rho) that prevent regeneration and/or sprouting of axons. Cell grafts are also envisaged to enhance beneficial immunological mechanisms (autologous macrophages, vaccines) or remyelinate axons (oligodendrocytes derived from stem cells). Some of these treatments could be planned concurrently with neurosurgical approaches that are themselves beneficial to decrease secondary damage (e.g., decompression/reconstructive spinal surgery). Finally, rehabilitative approaches based on the presence of functional networks (i.e., central pattern generator) below the lesion combined with the above neurobiological approaches may produce significant functional recovery of some sensorimotor functions, such as locomotion, by ensuring an optimal function of endogenous spinal networks and establishing new dynamic interactions with supralesional structures. More work is needed on all fronts, but already the results offer great hope for functional recovery after SCI based on sound basic and clinical neuroscience research.

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