Cellular therapies for treating pain associated with spinal cord injury
Journal of Translational Medicine
Leung Journal of Translational Medicine 2012, 10:37 http://www.translational-medicine.com/content/10/1/37
Spinal cord injury leads to immense disability and loss of quality of life in human with no satisfactory clinical cure. Cell-based or cell-related therapies have emerged as promising therapeutic potentials both in regeneration of spinal cord and mitigation of neuropathic pain due to spinal cord injury. This article reviews the various options and their latest developments with an update on their therapeutic potentials and clinical trialing.
Spinal cord injury is a devastating condition in humans leading to significant disability with immense loss of quality of life and economic output. At time of writing, there is no satisfactory clinical cure and overall prognosis is poor. In the last two decades, experimental data using cellular or cell-related therapies have opened up exciting therapeutic possibilities. Various clinical studies using cellular therapies for spinal cord injury have been discussed above and are summarised in Table 1 for ease of reference. For spinal cord regeneration, stem cell transplantation still holds the best future and amongst them, hESC  and OEC  are currently the prime candidates. However, with the abrupt withdrawal of Geron from the GRNOPC1 Phase I clinical trial, the actual immaturity of hESC research in spinal cord inju- ries and its vulnerability to financial considerations is well illustrated . As regards to combating neuropathic pain related to spinal cord injury, cellular or cell- related therapies are rapidly gathering momentum which aim to achieve analgesia from different perspectives: preventing neuronal damage due to inflammation, cell cycling or dysfunctional regeneration; installing biological mini-pumps using adrenal medullary chromaffin tissues, engineered cell lines or astrocytes and finally, regulating the internal milieu using transplant of bone marrow of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells.