A joint group of Chinese scientists has recently confirmed the safety and preliminary effective of NeuroRegen Scaffold transplantation for spinal cord injury repair. Results were published in Science China Life Sciences.
This group, led by DAI Jianwu’s team from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with Prof. ZHANG Sai’s group from the Chinese People’s Armed Police Forces, has developed a novel linear-ordered collagen scaffold called the NeuroRegen Scaffold, which was able to guide neurite growth along its fibers and provided a “bridge” for spinal cord nerve regeneration.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a serious central nerve injury, which leads to partial or complete loss of sensory and motor functions below the injury level. After SCI, the primary injury and its secondary reaction lead to hemorrhage, immune reactions, cell death, and scar formation, and an inhibitory environment eventually develops in response to the injury, which inhibits neural regeneration.
For patients with complete SCI, the sensory and motor functions below the injury level are completely lost and hardly recovered.
In this study, when the researchers transplanted these functional biomaterials along with neurotrophic factors or stem cells into rat, canine or monkey models of complete transection SCI, they found reduced formation of cystic cavity and reduced deposition of regeneration inhibitory molecules at the injury site, eventually promoting recovery of motor function.
Based on preclinical studies, the first clinical study of NeuroRegen Scaffold transplantation for the treatment of patients with complete SCI was started in January 2015.
Fifteen patients with acute complete spinal cord injury and 51 patients with chronic complete spinal cord injury were followed for 2-5 years.There are no serious functional-related adverse events scaffold Transplantation was observed. Of the patients with acute SCI, 5 patients achieved enlarged sensory position and 6 patients restored bowel or bladder sensation.
In addition, four patients regained spontaneous gait with reconnection of neural signaling. Of the 51 complete chronic patients, 16 achieved increased sensory levels and 30 experienced increased reflex defecation sensation or increased skin sweating under the site of injury. Almost half of patients with chronic cervical SCI showed increased finger activity, and some showed an enlargement of the spinal cord segment of exercise-induced potential.
Further analysis revealed that the recovery of sensory function was age-related. Younger patients are more likely to recover their sensations after surgery.
This is the first large-scale, long-term study of NeuroRegen Scaffold transplantation to repair complete SCI. The results show that NeuroRegen Scaffold transplantation is safe, preliminary and effective in the treatment of patients with complete acute and chronic SCI and provides hope for a desperate disease.
Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences