Indian J Orthop. 2015 Jan-Feb;49(1):56-71.

Stem cell therapy in spinal trauma: Does it have scientific validity?

Chhabra HS1, Sarda K1.

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Stem cell-based interventions aim to use special regenerative cells (stem cells) to facilitate neuronal function beyond the site of the injury. Many studies involving animal models of spinal cord injury (SCI) suggest that certain stem cell-based therapies may restore function after SCI. Currently, in case of spinal cord injuries, new discoveries with clinical implications have been continuously made in basic stem cell research, and stem cell-based approaches are advancing rapidly toward application in patients. There is a huge base of preclinical evidence in vitro and in animal models which suggests the safety and clinical efficacy of cellular therapies after SCI. Despite this, data from clinical studies is not very encouraging and at times confounding. Here, we have attempted to cover preclinical and clinical evidence base dealing with safety, feasibility and efficacy of cell based interventions after SCI. The limitations of preclinical data and the reasons underlying its failure to translate in a clinical setting are also discussed. Based on the evidence base, it is suggested that a multifactorial approach is required to address this situation. Need for standardized, stringently designed multi-centric clinical trials for obtaining validated proof of evidence is also highlighted.

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