Dr. Jennifer Morgan, Associate Director of the Eugene Bell Center for Regenerative Biology & Tissue Engineering, recently received a grant from the Morton Cure Paralysis Fund to support her project, “Defining the molecular recipe for successful regeneration after spinal cord injury.”
Presently, ~300,000 Americans live with spinal cord injury (SCI) and ~12,000 new injuries occur each year (https://www.nscisc.uab.edu). In mammals, including humans, neuronal death and lack of regeneration are two major barriers to functional recovery after SCI. Thus, there is a critical need to identify novel strategies to improve cell survival and promote regeneration after SCI.
Dr. Morgan and her collaborators, Drs. Ona E. Bloom, Joel Smith and Joseph D. Buxbaum, plan to perform an unbiased transcriptome analysis of single cells to identify the key factors intrinsic to neurons that drive regeneration after spinal cord injury, using the only vertebrate model in which this can currently be achieved, the lamprey (Petromyzon marinus). These experiments have great potential for identifying new factors that increase regeneration, thereby providing new therapeutic targets for improving recovery from paralysis after SCI.