Spinal Cord Injury

In December 2010, we received authorization from Swissmedic, the Swiss regulatory agency for therapeutic products, to initiate a Phase I/II clinical trial in Switzerland of our HuCNS-SC® human neural stem cells in chronic spinal cord injury.  Enrollment in this trial is expected to begin in early 2011.

Learn more about our clinical trial in spinal cord injury…

Compelling Preclinical Results

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

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.

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

Extensive preclinical studies conducted since 2002 in collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) demonstrate that our human neural stem cells engraft long term, migrate along the spinal cord to the point of injury, and differentiate into neurons and specialized cells called oligodendrocytes 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 long-term the lost motor function. Researchers also found that the animals with the greatest number of transplanted cells surviving had the greatest recovery in walking.

Most recently, 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.

Collaborations & Grants

In 2002, we established an ongoing collaboration with Drs. Aileen J. Anderson and Brian J. Cummings, both associate professors in the Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Anatomy and Neurobiology at UCI.

In September 2004, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a five-year $1.4 million grant to StemCells collaborators Drs. Aileen J. Anderson and Brian J. Cummings to fund new studies of our proprietary human neural stem cells in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

In September 2003, we were awarded a one-year $342,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS) to further our work in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

Continue learning more about Spinal Cord Injury…

Spinal cord injury is the second leading cause of paralysis in the US, affecting an estimated 1.3 million Americans.1

More about SCI

Learn more…

Milestones

  • 2002: StemCells enters into collaboration with researchers at the University of California, Irvine to evaluate the therapeutic potential of its human neural stem cells in spinal cord injury.
  • September 2005: In vivo proof of principle published in PNAS showing that our human neural stem cells restore motor function when transplanted in mice with sub-acute spinal cord injury.
  • August 2010: Data published in PLoS demonstrating that our human neural stem cells restore motor function when transplanted in mice with chronic spinal cord injury.
  • December 2010: Secured Swissmedic authorization to initiate a Phase I/II clinical trial in chronic spinal cord injury.

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