Researchers design new human spinal cord implants to treat paralysis

07 February 2022 17:32 STI

Tel Aviv [Israel], Feb. 7 (ANI): It is a sad reality that there is no cure for permanent paralysis. The spinal cord cannot heal itself. But now, for the first time in the world, researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology have engineered 3D human spinal cord tissue and implanted it into a lab model with chronic paralysis. long-term.
The results of the study have been published in the scientific journal “Advanced Science”.
The results were very encouraging: a success rate of about 80% in restoring walking ability. The researchers have now started preparing for the next stage of the study: clinical trials in human patients. They hoped that within a few years the modified tissues would be implanted in paralyzed individuals allowing them to stand up and walk again.
The groundbreaking study was led by Professor Tal Dvir’s research team at the Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology, the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tel Aviv University. . Professor Dvir’s lab team included PhD student Lior Wertheim, Dr Reuven Edri and Dr Yona Goldshmit. Other contributors included Prof. Irit Gat-Viks from the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research, Prof. Yaniv Assaf from the Sagol School of Neuroscience and Dr. Angela Ruban from the Steyer School of Health Professions, all from the University of Tel Aviv.

Professor Dvir explained: “Our technology is based on taking a small biopsy of fatty tissue from the patient’s belly. This tissue, like all tissues in our body, is made up of cells and an extracellular matrix (including substances like collagens and sugars) After separating the cells from the extracellular matrix, we used genetic engineering to reprogram the cells, returning them to a state that resembles embryonic stem cells, i.e. cells capable of becoming any type of cell in the body hydrogel, which would evoke no immune response or rejection after implantation.We then encapsulated the stem cells in the hydrogel and, in a process that mimics the development embryonic spinal cord, we transformed the cells into 3D implants of neural networks containing motor neurons.
The human spinal cord implants were then implanted in laboratory models, divided into two groups: those who had only recently been paralyzed (the acute model) and those who had been paralyzed for a long time – the equivalent of a year in human terms (the chronic model). model). After implantation, 100% of lab models with acute paralysis and 80% of those with chronic paralysis regained their ability to walk.
Professor Dvir continued: “The model animals underwent a rapid rehabilitation process, at the end of which they could walk very well. This is the first time in the world that implanted human tissue has generated recovery in an animal model. long-term chronic paralysis – which is the most relevant model for treatments of paralysis in humans.There are millions of people around the world who are paralyzed due to spinal injury , and there is still no effective treatment for their condition.People injured at a very young age are destined to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives, bearing all the social, financial and health costs of the injury. paralysis Our goal is to produce personalized spinal implants for each paralyzed person, allowing the regeneration of damaged tissue without the risk of rejection.”
Based on breakthrough organ engineering technology developed in Prof. Dvir’s lab, he joined forces with industry partners to create Matricelf ( in 2019. The company applies Prof. Dvir with the goal of making spinal cord implant treatments commercially available for people with paralysis.
Professor Dvir, Director of the Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology, concluded: “We hope to reach the stage of human clinical trials in the next few years, and eventually get these patients back on their feet. The company’s preclinical program has already been discussed. with the FDA. Given that we offer state-of-the-art technology in regenerative medicine, and that there is currently no alternative for paralyzed patients, we have good reason to expect relatively quick approval of our technology. (ANI)

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