In September 2019 the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation announced it will provide an additional $86,666 in funding to Griffith University’s Spinal Injury Project as part the the “Nerve Bridge Project”
The funds provided supported the development of a new generation of nerve bridges to repair the injured spinal cord. The Spinal Injury Project team has recently developed a new technology to produce nerve bridges which are made entirely from cells. These nerve bridges help promote repair of the injury site and allow nerve cells to grow across the injury site. The team has shown that the nerve bridges improve survival of the transplanted cells and lead to good regeneration of the nerve cells in animal models of spinal cord injury.
The project is led by Dr Mo Chen who completed his PhD with the SIP team in 2019. The funding has enabled Dr Chen, a bioengineer, to continue working on this exciting project and for Dr Eindorf to test the nerve bridges in different surgical situations. Being able to create a wider range of nerve bridges will lead to better cell transplantation options for treating different types of spinal cord injury.
The goals of this work are to accelerate the production system while improving the strength of the nerve bridges so that they can be handled better by surgeons.
This project is pushing the frontiers of biomedical engineering by generating new technologies to create cellular nerve bridges.
Significant Outcomes of the Project:
• The time for production of the nerve bridges has been considerably reduced
• The nerve bridges are now more compact and easier to handle for surgery
• Cell health within the nerve bridges is improved, which means that they will likely survive better after transplantation.
This project is an essential component of the overall SIP project as the quality of the nerve bridges is central to the success of the cell transplantation therapy. The funding by PCSRF has allowed the SIP team to make major progress in improving the use of the olfactory cells.
The next steps are to test these nerve bridges in a range of different injury models to see which ones respond best and to work out how to further improve the use of the nerve bridges.
This project is now funded through the Queensland Government Funding Grant.