Route 28 Summits

2005 Route 28 Summit Topic






Restoring Mobility: Stem Cells and Sensory/Motor Systems of the Spinal Cord

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2005 Summit Topic

The 2005 topic “Restoring Mobility: Stem Cells and Sensory/Motor Systems of the Spinal Cord” was selected with an eye toward the emerging synergism between the fields of trauma and neurodegeneration with a focus on three rapidly advancing fields in biomedicine.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease)
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)

The common thread of inflammation leading to gliosis and axonal injury has emerged as a major limitation for regeneration in each of these fields. More importantly, it is now clear that inflammatory pathways alter the axonal microenvironment leading to defects in conduction, transport and neuronal degeneration within diverse degenerative and traumatic disorders. These events occur within a surprisingly similar framework of an endogenous repair response that includes limited replacement of glial structures and the installment of a glial scar which may actually limit repair and facilitate degeneration. We hypothesize that neuroinflammatory processes orchestrate gliosis and axonal injury through pathways that are common to degenerative and traumatic insults of the CNS.

The challenge of this year’s workshop will be for students to synergize information from these seemingly diverse fields and to identify common strategies that may be applied to facilitate regeneration and/or protection. These must contemplate the modification of the endogenous repair response or activation of a new restorative pathway using concepts from the fields of stem cell biology and neuro-regeneration. The challenge will be to consider the events which lead to injury, scar and degeneration and create a proposed research/therapeutic approach that can work within the context of the disease environment. The conference will rely heavily on the spinal cord as a model with ALS, MS and SCI disease/injury models used to provide focus for the study groups.

By bringing together leaders in the field of neural development and stem cell plasticity along with experts in the field of neuronal and glial degeneration, the trainees will develop novel research concepts which can be implemented in future research collaborations. The cross disciplinary discussion and establishment of informal and comfortable lines of communication between students and senior investigators is a unique and potent strength of the Route 28 workshops.

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