Marina Romoli Onlus

Current practice in spinal cord injury (SCI) treatment is typically based on a combination of therapeutic interventions such as cell transplants, administration of neurotrophic factors / axonal guidance molecules, elimination of inhibitory molecules, and electrical stimulation of spinal circuits. On the other hand, the use of mechanical force, alone or in combination with other approaches, to accelerate the regeneration process has rarely been investigated. This is despite the fact that recent knowledge suggests that the mechanical force is perhaps the most remarkable inducer of axonal elongation described so far. This process is referred to as “stretch-growth”. Recently, the “Associazione Marina Romoli Onlus” granted the pre-clinical study proposed by our team to validate “stretch-growth” on the intermediate/chronic phase of SCI in a mouse contusion model. Specifically, we designed a study aimed at using stretch-growth for: i) promoting axon re-growth and the induction of neurite extension of resident neurons in the lesion area; and ii) accelerating the differentiation of transplanted NPCs. Specifically, the study aims to demonstrate that stretch-growth induces i) an increase in the number of the resident regenerating axons; ii) increased survival of transplanted cells; iii) tissue reconnection and iv) functional recovery of limb motor function.


Raffa, V. Force: A messenger of axon outgrowth (2022) Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology