Milap Sandhu, Ph.D., a post-doctoral associate in the laboratory of Dr. David Fuller, recently received a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation. Dr. Sandhu’s grant is titled “Training Novel Host-Graft Interfaces to Enhance Spinal Cord Repair”.
There are over 250,000 individuals living with spinal cord injury in the United States, and more than half of them have injuries in the cervical region. Cervical spinal cord injury interrupts connections between the brainstem and spinal cord, and results in paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Thus breathing becomes difficult and these individuals remain at high risk for developing respiratory-related complications. Neuronal replacement (e.g. “cell transplants”) shows considerable promise for enhancing recovery after injury, however, achieving effective host-graft communication is a major challenge. This work will test the hypothesis that a combination of hypoxia-based rehabilitative training, which is known to activate the grafted cells and surrounding respiratory neurons, with administration of an enzyme (Chondroitinase ABC) that degrades growth-inhibitory molecules at the interface of host and graft tissue, will improve host-graft functional integration after spinal cord injury. This work will be done in collaboration with Dr. Paul Reier, a stem-cell transplant expert in the field of spinal cord injury.
Craig H. Neilsen Foundation is a non-profit organization and supports research aimed at developing cures and improving the quality of life of people with spinal cord injury. Congratulations to Dr. Sandhu for this excellent achievement!