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Handb Clin Neurol. 2012;109:411-33. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-52137-8.00026-7.

Translational spinal cord injury research: preclinical guidelines and challenges.

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1
Department of Neuroscience, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL, USA. reier@mbi.ufl.edu

Abstract

Advances in the neurobiology of spinal cord injury (SCI) have prompted increasing attention to opportunities for moving experimental strategies towards clinical applications. Preclinical studies are the centerpiece of the translational process. A major challenge is to establish strategies for achieving optimal translational progression while minimizing potential repetition of previous disappointments associated with clinical trials. This chapter reviews and expands upon views pertaining to preclinical design reported in recently published opinion surveys. Subsequent discussion addresses other preclinical considerations more specifically related to current and potentially imminent cellular and pharmacological approaches to acute/subacute and chronic SCI. Lastly, a retrospective and prospective analysis examines how guidelines currently under discussion relate to select examples of past, current, and future clinical translations. Although achieving definition of the "perfect" preclinical scenario is difficult to envision, this review identifies therapeutic robustness and independent replication of promising experimental findings as absolutely critical prerequisites for clinical translation. Unfortunately, neither has been fully embraced thus far. Accordingly, this review challenges the notion "everything works in animals and nothing in humans", since more rigor must first be incorporated into the bench-to-bedside translational process by all concerned, whether in academia, clinical medicine, or corporate circles.

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