The challenges of translating stem cells for spinal cord injury and related disorders: what are the barriers and opportunities?

Expert review of neurotherapeutics

PubMedID: 23368801

Hewson SM, Fehlings LN, Messih M, Fehlings MG. The challenges of translating stem cells for spinal cord injury and related disorders: what are the barriers and opportunities?. Expert Rev Neurother. 2013;13(2):143-50.
Stem cell therapies have significant potential to treat spinal cord injury (SCI), but it remains difficult to translate these therapies from 'bench to bedside'. Identifying barriers to translation and understanding how these barriers are viewed by stakeholders in the field of stem cell research are key steps to clinical translation. The Stem Cell Global Blueprint Conference, held in Toronto (ON, Canada) presented a unique opportunity to analyze the perspectives of multiple stakeholders on the future of stem cell therapies for SCI treatment. This article is an analysis of data collected at the conference, including a consensus-building process and pre- and in-conference questionnaires. The authors used these data to assess current perceptions of stem cell research and compared the findings with the literature. The authors identified the major barriers according to a wide range of stakeholders and what strategies they suggested to overcome these obstacles, with the aim of forwarding discussion on stem cell research. It is not a systematic review of the area, but rather a presentation of expert opinion with literature citations to give context and support to their arguments and suggestions. The authors believe that the international SCI community is ready for larger-scale clinical translation, which will require the continued cooperation of all stakeholders in the stem cell and SCI communities.