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University of Queensland Research Project:

Repairing the chronically injured spinal cord with induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived propriospinal interneuron transplants

PCSRF funding 2018 - 2021

In May 2018, PCSRF confirmed its support for this exciting new three year research project led by Dr Marc Ruitenberg at University of Queensland. 

The intended outcome of this proposal is to design and develop an iPSC-based cell transplantation strategy that will replace lost spinal cord neurons and reestablish connectivity in order to cure paralysis, a key objective of the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation.

This project is a collaborative effort that brings together the expertise of Dr. Marc Ruitenberg, one of Australia’s foremost SCI researchers, and that of Prof. Ernst Wolvetang, a leader in pluripotent stem cell biology and functional genomics.

The permanent disability that results from traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can only be fully addressed by strategies that aim to replace lost neurons and restore connectivity between the brain and target structures. Propriospinal interneurons may be ideal for transplantation purposes as they naturally connect distant segments of the spinal cord via both ascending and descending projections. The team will explore whether iPSC-derived excitatory V2a propriospinal interneurons, which have crucial roles in motor control, can repair broken spinal cord circuits and return lost function.

(Pictured from L to R, Prof Marc Ruitenberg, Dr Brent McMonagle, Perry Corss, Prof Ernst Wolvetang)

Update December 2018 - Dr Sally Martin has been recruited as part of the projec tnad join the team in an offical capacity in early 2019. Sally will bring a wealth of expertise and practical skills on stell cell engineering and making neurons from IPSC's.

Please contact team@pcsrf.org.au for further information. 

UQ Press Release - Funding to find a cure hits the mark