Achievements

  • First demonstration that some nerve fibers remain viable in spinal cord injury but fail to conduct impulses due to loss of myelin insulation. This opens up the possibility of remyelinating the nerve fibers and thereby restoring function in them. We are attempting to do this with transplanted cells and stem cells.
  • First demonstration of molecular basis of remissions, where patients recover lost functions such as ability to walk in multiple sclerosis. The goal now, having understood how remissions occur, is to induce remissions, both in MS and in SCI.
  • Neuropathic pain (pain after nerve injury) often is unresponsive to existing medications, and thus represents a significant unmet medical need. Scientists within the Research Center have identified a molecular basis for pain after nerve injury. This points to new possibilities for targeting specific molecules to develop more effective treatments.
  • First demonstration of the molecular basis for phantom pain after SCI. The Center is now building on these observations, to develop new therapies for patients with pain after SCI.
  • First research on transplantation of myelin-forming cells into the injured spinal cord. The cells survive, migrate, find axons that need myelin insulation, and remyelinate them, thereby restoring ability to conduct impulses.
  • Demonstration that bone-marrow derived stem cells, introduced intravenously, "home" to the injured spinal cord and participate in repair. Scientists at the Center hope this will lead to a clinical trial in humans.