Challenges in Translating Regenerative Therapies for Spinal Cord Injury

Andrew N. Stewart, John C. Gensel, Linda Jones, Karim Fouad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Regenerating the injured spinal cord is a substantial challenge with many obstacles that need to be overcome to achieve robust functional benefits. This abundance of hurdles can partly explain the limited success when applying regenerative intervention treatments in animal models and/or people. In this article, we elaborate on a few of these obstacles, starting with the applicability of animal models and how they compare to the clinical setting. We then discuss the requirement for combinatorial interventions and the associated problems in experimental design, including the addition of rehabilitative training. The article expands on differences in lesion sizes and locations between humans and common animal models, and how this difference can determine the success or failure of an intervention. An additional and frequently overlooked problem in the translation of interventions that applies beyond the field of neuroregeneration is the reporting bias and the lack of transparency in reporting findings. New data mandates are tackling this problem and will eventually result in a more balanced view of the field. Finally, we will discuss strategies to negotiate the challenging course of successful translation to facilitate successful translation of regeneration promoting interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-43
Number of pages21
JournalTopics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Spinal Injury Association.


  • animal models
  • combined treatments
  • interspecies differences
  • publication transparency
  • translational success

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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