The lab of Alyson Fournier at The Neuro is part of a multi-centre study exploring ways to repair spinal cord damage.
A key challenge in treating traumatic spinal cord injury is repairing the gap that is formed when the spine is broken. This gap, typically a few centimetres wide, essentially blocks nerve impulses from getting through, leading to serious health issues that may include paralysis, loss of blood pressure, bladder and bowel control, sexual dysfunction, and chronic pain.
The new study, called Mend the Gap, will investigate using biomaterials—and soft gels in particular—to heal the injury. The soft gel will be injected into the site of the injury to serve as a bridge for growing nerve fibres.
Mend the Gap is a multidisciplinary project led by UBC with 32 members project including researchers, engineers and surgeons from Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia. In Canada, the network includes UBC, ICORD, the University of Alberta, Western University, The Neuro of McGill University and University of Toronto.
The role of the Fournier lab will be to find ways to promote axonal growth through the biomaterials. As a lab specializing in the molecular basis for central nervous system regeneration failure, the Fournier lab will guide the study of axonal regeneration and co-develop methods of delivering drugs through injectable and pre-formed bridges.
Source: University of British Columbia