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REVIEW: Pharmacological, Cell, and Gene Therapy Strategies to Promote Spinal Cord Regeneration

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In this review, recent studies using pharmacological treatment, cell transplantation, and gene therapy to promote regeneration of the injured spinal cord in animal models will be summarized. Pharmacological and cell transplantation treatments generally revealed some degree of effect on the regeneration of the injured ascending and descending tracts, but further improvements to achieve a more significant functional recovery are necessary. The use of gene therapy to promote repair of the injured nervous system is a relatively new concept. It is based on the development of methods for delivering therapeutic genes to neurons, glia cells, or nonneural cells. Direct in vivo gene transfer or gene transfer in combination with (neuro)transplantation (ex vivo gene transfer) appeared powerful strategies to promote neuronal survival and axonal regrowth following traumatic injury to the central nervous system. Recent advances in understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that govern neuronal survival and neurite outgrowth have enabled the design of experiments aimed at viral vector-mediated transfer of genes encoding neurotrophic factors, growth-associated proteins, cell adhesion molecules, and antiapoptotic genes. Central to the success of these approaches was the development of efficient, nontoxic vectors for gene delivery and the acquirement of the appropriate (genetically modified) cells for neurotransplantation. Direct gene transfer in the nervous system was first achieved with herpes viral and E1-deleted adenoviral vectors. Both vector systems are problematic in that these vectors elicit immunogenic and cytotoxic responses. Adeno-associated viral vectors and lentiviral vectors constitute improved gene delivery systems and are beginning to be applied in neuroregeneration research of the spinal cord. Ex vivo approaches were initially based on the implantation of genetically modified fibroblasts. More recently, transduced Schwann cells, genetically modified pieces of peripheral nerve, and olfactory ensheathing glia have been used as implants into the injured spinal cord.
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Keywords: Key words: Injury; Neurotrophins; Regeneration; Sp

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam, Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Meibergdreef 33, 1105 AZ Amsterdam-ZO, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2002-06-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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