Although promoting long-distance regrowth of injured axons has been a longstanding objective of spinal cord injury (SCI) research, there is now wide-spread appreciation for the contribution of intrinsic  neuroplastic  axonal growth (i.e., short-distance intraspinal sprouting) to spontaneous functional recovery. Spinal  interneurons  are identified as an essential component of this plasticity and contribute to the formation of new anatomical pathways following SCI, that can re-route information around the site of injury. In effect, such “by-pass” pathways constitute neural relays that contribute to functional improvements. Our research team believes that treatments capable of harnessing and enhancing this natural plasticity may circumvent the need for long-range axonal growth.  Accordingly, we believe that spinal interneurons are a key therapeutic target for optimizing anatomical repair and functional recovery following SCI.       Our research program is exploring two key therapeutic strategies. The first is a cellular therapy capable of promoting spinal cord repair. This approach has been used extensively in the past 30 years in a wide range of SCI models (e.g. see work by Drs  Paul Reier  and  Itzhak Fischer ), and other neurological disorders. Our research now builds upon this extensive experience to assess whether transplantation of neural progenitor cells - containing many spinal interneurons - can repair respiratory pathways after cervical SCI and promote recovery of respiratory function. Our primary focus is on promoting recovery of  phrenic  motor function – as the diaphragm is an essential component of breathing.   
  
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Cell Transplantation
Rehabilition
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