The World’s Leading Surgeons and Scientists Together To Answer One Question:
WHAT ARE THE BARRIERS TO CURE?
Many body injuries, such as broken bones and lacerated skin, heal because these tissues have a naturally occurring reservoir of stem cells in the body. When injury occurs, the stem cells become active, multiply, mature, and replace the damaged cells.
In sharp contrast, spinal cord injuries fail to heal – even in young people. There are many possible reasons, one of which is a lack of spinal cord stem cells, another may be the formation of scar tissue which prevents the cells from healing. For centuries, the prevailing medical dogma has been that spinal cord injury is incurable, and the resulting paralyses are inevitable and life long.
However, advances in stem cell science indicate that it may be possible to use stem cells to repair injured spinal cords. But not all experts agree that placing stem cells, even those differentiated into neuronal subtypes, at the site of injury, will result in repaired nerve function.
If not, why not? And what are the alternatives? What, exactly, are the treatment barriers to cure of spinal cord injury?
There is a divergence of opinion among neurologists, neurosurgeons and scientists about the safest and most effective method of clinical trial with stem cells. The design of clinical trials has been the topic of a series of meetings of the International Campaign for Cures of Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis (ICCP, Spinal Cord 45: 190-242, 2007). The divergence of opinions is appropriate because there are many important questions that remain unanswered. Therefore, continuing dialog among stem cell researchers, neurologists and neurosurgeons is necessary to identify, and solve the barriers to cure.
The Spinal Workshop brings together the three key areas: Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Basic Science to identify the remaining barriers to cure. By the end of this one-day workshop, the group will have produced a list of the current barriers. The report from this workshop will serve as guidelines for seeking the resources necessary to solve the problems identified.
This workshop is not designed to be a general exchange of ideas, but rather a clinical + basic science interchange to solve specific, targeted problems. During the morning session, the workshop’s faculty will present each of the major areas of research. During the afternoon session, the faculty will focus on summarizing and targeting the current barriers in each area. At the end of the day, all these presentations will culminate in a list of these barriers and discussion of next steps for moving the research forward.