The Year in Review: SCI Research Breakthroughs in 2015





 

 

Year in ReviewAnd as we cross the threshold into 2016, we are one step closer to our goal of finding a cure for paralysis in ten years.

Moving full speed ahead towards that goal, we wanted to compile a brief retrospective. 2015 has been an incredible year for spinal cord injury research, with breakthroughs in a variety of potential treatments, on top of important strides made by individuals with SCI. Take a look at some key milestones from this past year and stay tuned for what’s to come in 2016. Happy New Year!

January

Researchers at the Ecolepolytechniquefederale de Lausanne, Switzerland, successfully demonstrated a system that allowed completely paralyzed rats to walk again.The team is now approachingclinical human trials, with a flexible implant specifically designed to integrate with the patient's spine, minimizing the risk of rejection and further damage.More

Chinese scientists completed the first spinal cord surgery in the world. During the four-hour procedure, stem cells were implanted into the patient's spinal column, with the help of regenerative nerve material developed by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. More

February

A new study by the Salk Institute shows that a cluster of neurons in mice’s spinal cords function as a “mini-brain” to help us walk without constant monitoring by the brain.A better understanding of these spinal circuits should eventually aid in developing therapies for spinal cord injuries. More

March

The substance epothilone, which is currently used to treat cancer and is already licensed on the US market, was shown to reduce the formation of scar tissue in injuries to the spinal cord, and also stimulate growth in damaged nerve cells in animal subjects. More

April

InVivo Therapeutics Holdings Corp. created a productcalled the neuro-spinal scaffold--a polymer invented by MIT professor Robert Langer designed to help the spine heal, and then degrade in the body. The company is conducting a trial of five patients. More

Benjamin DePenning was born with cerebral palsy. His therapy dog, Hope has a spinal cord injury. In addition to keeping Benjamin company, Hope helps others find meaning in science through Iowa State University’s spinal cord injuries research program.More

May

Former Luther College football player Chris Norton graduated and walked (with his girlfriend’s help) across the stage to collect his degree. He later shared a video in which he talks about his road to recovery after moving to Michigan to work on healing at Barwis Methods in Plymouth. He and his girlfriend are now engaged. More

Researchers at The Imperial College London found that a group of drugs being tested for cancer could also be used to treat spinal cord injuries.Those treated with cancer drugs called nutlins recovered much more movement than those left untreated. The drugs will now be tested in rats and could be tested in human patients within 10 years.More

June

Three years after they treated patients with spinal cord injury in a clinical trial with transplanted cells from the patients' olfactory mucosa, in orderto build a bridge between the damaged ends of the spinal cord, scientists at Wenzhou Medical University in China discovered that some recipients had experienced a range of modest improvements. They also determined that the use of olfactory mucosa lamina propria (OLP) transplants was "promising and safe."More

July

A group of scientists published a paper in Spinal Cord, proposing a new methodological approach to epidural electrostimulation. This new approach is based on distributing the stimulation and modulating the frequency of electrical impulses, which has provided good results in vitro.More

ReWalk Robotics launched The ReWalk Personal 6.0. This version of the exoskeleton offers those with spinal cord injuries the most functional exoskeleton system with the fastest walking speed and the most precise fit, among many other key benefits.More

August

Three years ago, the drug company backing research into the impact of stem cells injected at the site of a spinal cord injury abruptly ended the investigation. But not all was lost -- researchers were able to show the treatment was safe. Now, Rush University Medical Center neurosurgeon Richard Fessler is picking up – ahead of where he left off.More

September

Conquer Paralysis Now awarded its first round of grants to winners of the CPN Challenge, whose proposals all demonstrated novel approaches to spinal cord injury treatment. More

Researchers at UC Irvine help a 26-year-old man walk with only a harness to help support his weight. He was able to move using his own brainwaves. Electrodes were attached directly to his muscles so that he could control them, bypassing his injured spinal cord.More

Meanwhile, another man – Mark Pollack – walked with the help of an Ekso exoskeleton. He also gained back some control of and feelings in his legs, thanks to a process known as "transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation."More

October

Calling all researchers:  CPN announced the opening of Stage 1, Round 2 of the CPN Challenge.

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis researchers developed a nerve-transfer surgical technique that allows quadriplegic patients with neck spinal cord injuries to regain movement in their hands and arms.More

San Diego State University researchers -- along with teams at the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will continue their work on a brain chip that could help people with traumatic spinal cord injuries undo the effects of paralysis. The brain chip reroutes neural signals around the injured nerves, and a receiver picks them up on the other side.More

November

Peter Diamandis, Chairmab and CEO of XPRIZE, authored a piece for Huffington Post about today’s broken healthcare system. More

December

Tylor Rose, who was left paralyzed after a car accident in April, launched a teddy bear drive with help from his family to support others in rehab for spinal cord injuries. More

Following criticism about allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act,Uber launchednew program UberTaxi “Wheelchair” in D.C.More