The laboratory of Dr. John Kessler, professor and chair of neurology at Northwestern, has published a promising new approach for treating spinal cord injury. The technique utilizes a nanotechnology-inspired gel, developed by collaborator Dr. Sam Stupp, professor of materials science and director of Northwestern'sInstitute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine.
The gel, injected as a liquid into the injury site, self-assembles into a scaffolding that reduces scarring at the injury site, facilitating re-growth of damaged neurons. Initial experiments in rodents showed promising results, as detailed recently in the Journal of Neuroscience.
If you are interested in learning more about the research that led to this finding, it is profiled in Terra Incognita: Mapping Stem Cell Research, a feature-length documentary film about Dr. Kessler's laboratory (view film trailer).