A spinal cord injury breaks the connections between the brain and the spinal cord that control the ability to move, feel touch, and control bowel, bladder, and sexual function.
All scientists agree that the best way to restore function after spinal cord injury is to find ways to regenerate the connections that are broken. Indeed, inducing regeneration has been the holy grail for research for more than a century. RIRC scientists, working in collaboration with scientists at other universities, have achieved major breakthroughs in experimental animals, establishing that regeneration of connections can be achieved through interventions that are plausible therapeutic candidates. Now, we are working diligently to move these therapeutic candidates from the lab to the clinic.
In a bi-coastal effort with Dr. Zhigang He at the Children’s Hospital at Harvard, Dr. Steward’s lab seeks to develop ways to promote regeneration of the connections that control our ability to move voluntarily. It is the first time in history we have seen impressive regeneration on the other side of an injury site.