Spinal Cord Injury refers to damage to the spinal cord or specific nerves located at spinal canal's end.

The damage consequence can vary in severity from TETRAPLEGIA to PARAPLEGIA.

Many of SCI is related to spot and motor vehicle accidents of young people.

Other causes are:

  • Disk degeneration of the spinal column

  • Cancer

  • Osteoporosis


Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a devastating pathology with dramatic lifetime consequences, affecting thousands of people worldwide. Therefore, and considering the very limited regeneration ability of the central nervous system, in this project we propose to develop a neural tissue engineered scaffold capable of not only combining fibrous and porous topographic cues in order to mimic the morphology of the native spinal cord, but also potentiating the properties of graphene-based materials (GBM) supported in a protein-rich decellularized matrix (adECM). In fact, the suggested 3D microenvironment should present electrical, chemical, mechanical, and topographic features able to preserve neural cell survival and enhance neural progenitor cell differentiation towards neuronal and glial cells. Progress in this way will help us better understand how damaged neural tissues repair and, as a result, help us come up with new ways to treat spinal cord injuries.


The radically new science-enabled technology that shall be developed in NeuroStimSpinal consists in an innovative stimulus-responsive cell-laden biomaterial able to repair the SCI nervous tissue.

The proposed innovative biomaterial characteristic is a scaffold for implantation in the traumatic injury point composed of graphene-based materials (GBM) and human adipose derived decellularized tissue (adECM) together with electrical stimulation to promote the growth and reconnection of the ruptured nerves.


It is based on a novel adECM/GBM hybrid composition.

The adECM obtained by the partner TECNALIA demonstrated at TRL4:

1) Preservation of basal membrane proteins which play a role as passive molecular filtration and lead to a remarkable positive effect on cell differentiation and tissue repair

2) Viability preservation of more than 139 proteins and 5 types of collagens, some of them with proven interest in neural regeneration

3) Preservation of cell viability according to ISO 10993-5 with residual DNA amount

UAVR and Tecnalia have already verified the feasibility of the integration of graphene oxide (GO) with this adECM in an oriented channel configuration that could benefit directed axon growth.

A successful scaffold that promote the neural regeneration, axon growth and neural connection will establish an essential basis for a new line of scientific research in the neurological field with potential applications in other frequent neurological disorders such as Alzheimer, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.


Schematic representation of the methodologies steps projected in NeuroStimSpinal

According to this methodology, the specific objectives of NeuroStimSpinal are:

- Formulation of different adECM/GBM compositions, shapes and porosity matrices rationally designed for different SCI locations

- Assess the biocompatibility, bio-functionality, performance (including electrical stimulation) of adECM/GBM scaffolds using embryonic neural progenitor cells (ENCPs)

- Evaluate the systemic and long-term efficacy of cell-laden and non-cell-laden scaffolds with and without electrical stimulation using rat and rabbit in vivo models