Spinal cord injury (SCI) damages axons and disrupts myelination interrupting sensory and motor neuronal transmission to and from the brain. Patients suffering from SCI although continue to survive, are often left chronically disabled and with no promise of a cure. Advances in stem cell biology has opened up doors for the use of human embryonic, adult neural and induced pluripotent stem cell strategies for SCI. Despite great promise from animal research, clinical trials have been limited and the jury is still out on its safety and efficacy. This review discusses the advantages and disadvantages of the various stem cell types, barriers hindering translation from animal to humans, and the need for established guidelines for standardization of clinical trials ensuring subsequent implementation. Ultimately, unrealistic expectations of stem cell therapy (SCT) as the elixir for SCI should be managed. The success of SCT for SCI lies in the network of research scientists, medical professionals and patients working cooperatively to build up a knowledge-intensive platform for a comprehensive risk-benefit assessment of SCT for SCI.
Keywords: Adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, stem cell therapy, spinal cord injury, Spinal cord injury (SCI), pluripotent stem cell, stem cell therapy (SCT), spasticity, motor neurons, blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB), oligodendrocytes, astrocytosis, hodgepodge, fibroblasts, mesenchymal, methylprednisolone, neuroprotective agents, naloxone, tirilazad, mesylate, aminopyridine, tizanidine, tumour necrosis, chondroitinase ABC, metalloproteinases, insulin growth factor-1, ciliary neurotrophic factor, synergistic effects, Peripheral nerve graft, olfactory ensheathing cell (OECs), embryonic stem cells (ESCs), blastomeres, teratoma, mesenchymal stem cells, neurogenesis, hippocampal, ependyma, umbilical cord blood (UCB), pluripotent cells, Epidermal growth factor (EGF), fibroblast growth factor-2, neurotrophins, excitotoxicity, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), cerulospinal axons, noxious stimuli, Bromodeoxy-Uridine, Gadolinium-diethylene triamine peta-acetic acid (Gd-DPTA), superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), Tumourigenicity, spinal cord, oligodendrocyte, myelination, Von Hippel-Lindau protein, Schwann cells, iPS cells, Allodynia, corticosteroids, synergistic effects., Bromodeoxyuridine, Glial-derived nerotrophic factor, Neurotrophin-3, Subgranular zone, Sry-related HMG box 2, Subventricular zone