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Spinal cord is the main pathway of communication between brain and peripheral nervous system. Spinal cord injury (SCI) often leads to sensory and motor functional deficits below the injury level, causing severe disability and bringing heavy burden to family and society. Spinal cord injury repair is one of the most challenging medical problems, and no effective therapeutic methods has been developed. The spinal cord is a complex tissue composed of various types of nerve cells, nerve fibers, and blood vessels. After SCI, the injury distance usually reaches several centimeters, resulting in the loss of multiple cells and the interruption of neural connections. Hence, it is difficult to achieve a satisfactory effect by transplanting a single type cell to repair severe SCI. A few studies have reported that transplantation of rat embryonic central neural tissue pieces into the injury area of newborn or adult rats for SCI treatment. The embryonic central neural tissue pieces partially replaced the lost spinal cord tissue, survived in the lesion area of the newborn or adult host, newly-formed neural connections, and thus showed positive effect on motor function recovery after surgery. However, studies of the therapeutic effect of adult spinal cord tissue pieces on SCI repair have not been reported. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate utilization of adult spinal cord tissue pieces to reconstruct neural function and restore motor function.
Biologists from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Science, transplanted adult spinal cord grafts (aSCGs) into the lesion sites of the adult host with spinal cord transection to improve the locomotor function.