Exciting advances in the research effort to develop and refine novel techniques for repairing injured spinal cords have led to promising strategies for regenerating damaged neural tissue, inhibiting scar tissue formation, repairing underlying molecular defects, and restoring function, which are presented and evaluated in a special four-part compendium of papers in the March/April 2006 double Spinal Cord issue (Volume 23, Number 3/4) of Journal of Neurotrauma, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com). The issue will be available free online at www.liebertpub.com/neu.
This spinal cord research compendium focuses on four main target research areas: Neural Degeneration and Regeneration, which explores the complexity of spinal cord injury and repair at the cellular and molecular level; Myelin and Scar-Derived Inhibition, which reviews axonal growth inhibition due to scar formation; Cellular and Molecular Repair, describing cellular transplants and growth-promoting molecules; and Functional Recovery, a section that explores ways to improve patient Rehabilitation and the design and use of tests to assess function after spinal cord injury and repair. A concluding review paper emphasizes the need for standardization of protocols and offers perspectives on how research results and new therapeutic approaches can be translated from the lab bench to the bedside.
“The Journal is indeed pleased to publish this compendium of reviews that have been written by some of the leading clinicians and scientists in the area of spinal cord injury and repair. As written, the document provides an invaluable resource for the seasoned investigator, as well as those first considering the study and/or treatment of this devastating traumatic disorder,” says John T. Povlishock, Ph.D., editor of Journal of Neurotrauma, and Chairman, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical College of Virginia, in Richmond, and Co-Director of the VCU Neuroscience Center.
Included in this special double issue is a report by Darryl C. Baptiste and Michael G. Fehlings, entitled, “Pharmacological Approaches to Repair the Injured Spinal Cord,” in which the authors present several promising medications under investigation for protecting and promoting neurologic function, including riluzole, minocycline, and erythropoietin. Due to the multiple secondary effects associated with traumatic spinal cord injury, the authors emphasize the need to pursue multifactorial strategies in the development of effective therapies.
In “Rehabilitative Therapies After Spinal Cord Injury,” V. Reggie Edgerton, Soo J. Kim, Ronaldo M. Ichiyama, Yuri P. Gerasimenko, and Roland R. Roy discuss the design of rehabilitative strategies to improve Motor recovery following a spinal cord injury, focusing on activity-based interventions capable of enhancing sensorimotor function by improving recovery of muscle mass and coordination.
Featured in the section on Cellular and Molecular Repair are papers by Damian D. Pearse and Mary Bartlett Bunge, called “Designing Cell and Gene-Based Regeneration Strategies to Repair the Injured Spinal Cord,” and by Gaby U. Enzmann, Richard L. Benton, Jason F. Talbott, Qilin Cao, and Scott R. Whittemore, entitled, “Functional Considerations of Stem Cell Transplantation Therapy for Spinal Cord Repair.” Pearse and Bunge focus on the many promising cell- and gene-based approaches in development, reviewing the goals and benefits of various experimental strategies and discussing methods for assessing the effectiveness of combination therapies to improve axonal regeneration. Enzmann et al. contend that stem cells hold great promise for spinal cord repair following traumatic injury, with embryonic stem cells offering the greatest therapeutic potential at present. The authors caution, however, against moving ahead too quickly with this developing technology, lest more harm than good be done.
In the Concluding Review, “Clinical Trials in Spinal Cord Injury,” Andrew Blight and Mark Tuszynski describe the prospects for translating promising experimental approaches for promoting neuronal regeneration in animal into safe and well-designed human clinical studies.
Journal of Neurotrauma is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly in print and online that focuses on the latest advances in the clinical and laboratory investigation of traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. Emphasis is on the basic pathobiology of injury to the nervous system, and the papers and reviews evaluate preclinical and clinical trails targeted at improving the early management and long-term care and recovery of patients with traumatic brain injury. Journal of Neurotrauma is the official journal of the National Neurotrauma Society and the International Neurotrauma Society. A complete table of contents and a free sample issue may be viewed online at www.liebertpub.com/neu.
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research. Its Biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at www.liebertpub.com.
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., New Rochelle Vicki Cohn, 914-740-2100, ext. 2156