Spinal Cord Injury (SCI): Pre‑clinical Studies

Published pre-clinical data demonstrates the therapeutic potential of the StemCells HuCNS-SC® (purified human neural stem cells) platform technology to treat spinal cord injury (SCI).

Compelling Pre-clinical Results

Human neural stem cells promote long-term functional motor recovery. Learn more…

Download PDF of published research; see page 3, Figure A…

Human neural stem cells were transplanted into a group of spinal-cord injured mice and their motor function over time was compared against a control (non-transplanted) group of similarly injured mice as measured by the BBB score (a standard measure of function). The motor function of the transplanted mice was shown to be higher to a statistically significant degree. When the transplanted human cells were subsequently ablated by the researchers using Diphtheria toxin (DT), the greater function of the transplanted group was lost, demonstrating that the presence of the human cells was necessary for the functional motor recovery.


Open Field BBB Score (0-18) 14  SCI Chart Data
DT treatment to ablate transplanted cells
Restored motor function lost
Weeks post injury
  • Repeated measures ANOVA p<0.01
  • * Individual time points p<0.05
  • ■  Human neural stem cells (n=11)
  • ■  Control (n=15)

Extensive Pre-clinical studies conducted since 2002 in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) demonstrated that our human neural stem cells engraft long term, migrate along the spinal cord to the point of injury, and differentiate into neurons and oligodendrocytes, the specialized cells that create myelin. When transplanted into the spinal cord of mice with lower spinal cord injury (thoracic cord trauma that results in hind limb paralysis), our human neural stem cells have been shown to form new myelin sheaths around damaged nerve axons and restore lost motor function long term. Researchers also found that the animals with the greatest number of transplanted cells surviving had the greatest recovery in walking.

In 2010, StemCells scientists and UCI researchers achieved a significant breakthrough by demonstrating for the first time that human neural stem cell transplantation can restore lost motor function even when administered at time points beyond the acute phase of trauma. When transplanted into mice with chronic spinal cord injury, our human neural stem cells were shown to promote a significant and persistent recovery in walking ability in two separate tests of motor function when compared to control groups. These data suggest the prospect of expanding the window of opportunity for intervention, and therefore the potential to treat a much broader population of injured patients.

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About SCI

Spinal cord injury is the second leading cause of paralysis in the U.S., affecting an estimated 1.3 million1 Americans, and today there are no curative treatment options.

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Clinical Program

Based upon the strength of both our pre-clinical studies and the interim data from our Phase I/II clinical trial in thoracic spinal cord injury (SCI), StemCells, Inc. has initiated the Pathway® Study, a Phase II proof of concept clinical trial using our proprietary HuCNS-SC® human neural stem cells for the treatment of cervical SCI.

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Findings from studies performed by StemCells, Inc. and its collaborators on the use of human neural stem cells for the treatment of spinal cord injury have been published.

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  • Human neural stem cells restore lost motor function in Spinal Cord Injury

    Irving Weissman, MD
    (Run Time: 00:02:06)

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