Spinal Cord Repair with Engineered Nervous Tissue
Annual rept. 30 Sep 2010-29 Sep 2011
PENNSYLVANIA UNIV PHILADELPHIA
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Spinal cord injury SCI exacts an enormous social and financial burden on society. As such, there has been considerable attention directed at finding treatment strategies, including development of tissue and cell transplant techniques. However, the current approaches do not adequately address the complexity of the injury site, such as lesion length and an environment that is usually non-permissive for axon regeneration. We have developed tissue-engineered constructs consisting of living dorsal root ganglia DRG and axons that can be stretch-grown to a length necessary to bridge extensive lesions. In current studies, we have optimized in-vitro growth of our constructs, transplanted these constructs into a 1cm-long lesion in the rat thoracic spinal cord, and have demonstrated survival of DRG up to two weeks post-implantation. In addition, we have begun to characterize the in vitro electrophysiological characteristics of the DRG, which may aid in evaluation of synaptic connectivity. In ensuing evaluations, we intend to evaluate long-term 3 and 6 month survival of the constructs as well as functional recovery beyond the lesion site. If successful, this approach will provide an alternative or additional means to repair large spinal lesions.
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