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The latest news and information about what's going on with SCI science and research. Brought to you by Sam Maddox, author of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Guide.

Most Recent Research News Blog Posts

Would you buy it if all of a sudden Cruella de Vil started a shelter for homeless dogs and said she had undergone a change of heart? What about if Lord Voldemorte forsook his evil nature to open a summer camp for inner-city muggles? I wouldn’t go for either story. How about this one: the glial scar, the villain of spinal cord injury, is actually one of the good ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Mar 31, 2016 7:30 PM EDT
A research report was published this month affirming what is becoming increasingly clear: spinal cord injury greatly affects the immune system, and vice versa, immune response directly affects recovery from traumatic injury.   Jan Schwab, a physician/researcher (neurologist/experimental neurologist) at the Ohio State University’s Wexner ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Mar 28, 2016 7:34 PM EDT
A second exoskeleton model that allows people with paralysis to stand up and ambulate has been approved for personal use by the FDA. The Indego , developed at Vanderbilt University and licensed to the Parker Hannifin Corporation, should be available later this year. It’s been available in Europe since November.   The Indego follows the ReWalk system, ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Mar 15, 2016 12:01 PM EDT
Darek Fidyka is in the news again. Your remember him. Polish fireman, got stabbed and completely paralyzed, got better after cells from his olfactory bulb were injected into his spinal cord. Big news 18 months ago; lots of chatter about what a major breakthrough it was. Well, here’s to Darek, who continues to get better. A video was posted last week ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Mar 7, 2016 1:46 AM EST
More proof, perhaps, that engineering is moving faster than biology. A group from Australia, funded in part by the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has developed a very cool, non-surgical way to record brain information of the sort that might power brain-machine interface (BMI) devices – prosthetics for ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Feb 29, 2016 2:24 PM EST
Stimulation of the vagus nerve is being investigated as a way to treat migraine, tinnitus, inflammatory bowel disease, hiccups, stroke, diabetes, brain injury and multiple sclerosis. Add spinal cord injury to the list. The vagus nerve is one of the major nerve highways connecting the brain and the rest of the body. It winds from brain to neck and then ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Feb 28, 2016 1:26 PM EST
Let’s talk about the blood-brain barrier, the BBB, or as it is sometimes called, the blood-brain-spinal cord barrier. As you may recall from Biology 101, this is the physical structure, a kind of wall, that separates blood and the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Scientists discovered the BBB about 125 years ago, ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Feb 22, 2016 1:55 PM EST
Here is a look at a recently published scientific study related to spinal cord injury. This comes from the Jerry Silver lab at Case Western in Cleveland, a program with a long history of looking at glia, the cells that support neurons in the spinal cord. We have discussed Silver's work often, in particular his efforts to get once-vibrant nerves in the ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Jan 31, 2016 7:20 PM EST
It is now possible, with minimal technical skill and very little cost, to essentially edit and perhaps correct the human genome. The genome comprises the basic blueprint for all organs, tissues and cells in the body, and for all bodily functions, including those associated with disease or those damaged by trauma. Cut-and-paste gene editing ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Jan 26, 2016 3:39 PM EST
File this in the-future-is-gaining-on-us folder.   Four news stories caught my eye in recent days, related in ways that will be mostly obvious. Feel free to speculate about the brave new mechanized breeze blowing this way. For people living with paralysis, it's time to embrace cyborgian solutions.   Item one :  The VA agreed a couple of weeks ago to pay ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Jan 8, 2016 9:21 PM EST
A year-end look back at spinal cord injury research: by at least one yardstick, it was a very hopeful year. There were an unprecedented number of clinical trials for individuals with long-term SCI. First, the epidural stimulation studies at the University of Louisville have continued beyond the first four participants we’ve all come to know – ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Dec 25, 2015 12:23 AM EST
The idea of any acute therapy for spinal cord injury is to limit the damage that occurs secondary to the initial trauma. As a result of inflammation, edema and general cellular chaos, the injury process continues for hours and even days. But that process, which is becoming better understood, can be manipulated. There are new tools to protect the ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Nov 30, 2015 7:28 PM EST
StemCells Inc. released some early data a few days ago from its Pathway stem cell clinical trial for chronic cervical spinal cord injury. You have to be a little careful when public companies release information about their work – investor enthusiasm is really the point. But these unpublished results appear to be quite remarkable: Five of six motor ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Nov 24, 2015 3:41 PM EST
Turns out CHASE-IT stands Chondroitinase ABC for Spinal Injury Therapy. It’s a collaborative project between four lab groups, led by:  Elizabeth Bradbury (King’s College London), Elizabeth Muir (University of Cambridge), Joost Verhaagen (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience), and ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Nov 14, 2015 1:41 AM EST
The spinal cord alone, without brain input, coordinates and automates many complex movement functions. A team of scientists at the Salk Institute in San Diego, led by Sam Pfaff, a member of the Reeve Foundation International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury , made a big step this month toward understanding how this works. The research, ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Sep 30, 2015 10:00 PM EDT
Kate Willette's book has just arrived. It's 238 nicely illustrated pages, titled "Don't Call it A Miracle, The Movement to Cure Spinal Cord Injury." If you want to understand the basic biology of the injured cord, and what the basic approaches scientists are taking to heal, mend or bypass the nervous system, and by all means if ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Sep 28, 2015 11:01 PM EDT
Paraplegics are on their feet. Walking the walk. Seems we are hearing that a lot lately. Let’s look at two high profile stories, two very different approaches, both reported in the medical literature in September.   Mark Pollock practices walking with trainer Simon O'Donnell. (Courtesy of Mark Pollock) Earlier in the month, Irishman Mark ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Sep 26, 2015 9:15 PM EDT
A research paper came out a few days ago about how spinal cord axons, what many of us think of as nerve fibers, are guided to make connections exactly where they are supposed to. That issue – connecting – is a primary concern in development, as the system is formed with elegance and precision, and again after spinal cord injury, where it doesn’t ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Aug 31, 2015 5:42 PM EDT
Asterias Biotherapeutics announced today that a third patient with a cervical spinal cord injury has been dosed with embryonic stem cells (code-named AST-OPC1) as part of the company’s acute (14 to 30 days post injury) Phase 1/2a clinical trial of oligodendrocyte progenitor (OP) cells. In case you don’t have your scorecard in front of ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Aug 31, 2015 4:07 PM EDT
Clearing out the spinal cord scar using a bacterial roto-rooter; seeding the injury site with fragments of peripheral nerve; souping up inactive spinal cord nerve cells by modifying their genetic blueprints – these are three well-studied ideas that have each captured major mindshare in the spinal cord research community, and have over years of ... more...
Posted by Sam Maddox on Spinal Cord Injury Research Aug 24, 2015 4:33 PM EDT

Recent Comments

Hi Sam,
yes, really great post!
I'm new here and the main reason I registered here is exactly this post. Is there any information on how far this device has been developed to get 'ready to go'-status?
Thankfully, me. :)
The the procedure needs to be widely and SAFELY replicated. Other variables may have had more impact on recovery than the surgery.
Looks like among the more promising therapies under research with applications beyond SCI. This means a greater chance for funding. Thanks for the update.
Go Mark Pollock!! And all the others involved in USA and Dublin. It seems like such a long wait though - Emily is losing hope despite all the progress in research. But looking here helps, thank you.
Are those findings also valid for tetraplegics ?