- Spinal Cord Injury, Translational Neuroscience, Glial Biology, Axon Regeneration, Synaptic Plasticity
2019 Davies group L-R: Jeannette Davies, Stephen Davies
There are millions of people around the world with disabilities resulting from traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). Through gaining a better understanding of the molecular and cell biology of the injured spinal cord, the primary goal of our research group is to develop novel, clinically relevant cellular technologies for promoting recovery of neurological function in patients with acute and chronic spinal cord injuries.
Regulating scar formation and promoting axonal and synaptic plasticity of surviving circuits are now recognized as rational treatment strategies for traumatic spinal cord injury. Pre-clinical studies from our group have shown that direct infusion a small leucine-rich proteoglycan called Decorin into acute spinal cord or brain injuries can suppress inflammation and multiple aspects of scar formation, including levels of multiple axon growth inhibitory chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) and Semaphorin 3A, rendering sites of injury more permissive for axon growth.
Additionally, treatment with human-recombinant Decorin core protein (hrDecorin) also suppressed the sensitivity of adult sensory neurons to multiple axon growth inhibitory CSPGs and myelin associated molecules in vitro. These results provided the rationale for our current research focus on exploring the potential of hrDecorin to promote axon regeneration and plasticity of surviving circuits in pre-clinical models of sub-acute and long-term chronic SCI. As astrocytes are known to play a key role in regulating synaptic plasticity within the central nervous system, our group is also investigating whether Decorin can promote expression and secretion of known regulators of synaptogenesis by astrocytes in the brain and spinal cord after SCI.
Selected Recent Publications
Pubmed: Davies SJ