Combining advanced molecular mapping technologies and AI, EPFL researchers have published an open-source ‘atlas’ in Nature, providing a comprehensive understanding of spinal cord injury biology in mice and paving the way for new therapies.


Scientists at EPFL have achieved a significant research milestone in the field of spinal cord injuries—mapping out the cellular and molecular dynamics of paralysis in unprecedented detail with their open-source project ‘Tabulae Paralytica’. Grégoire Courtine and his team have integrated cutting-edge cell and molecular mapping technologies with artificial intelligence to chart the complex molecular processes that unfold in each cell after spinal cord injuries (SCI). Published in Nature, this seminal work not only identifies a specific set of neurons and genes that plays a key role for recovery but also proposes a successful gene therapy derived from its discoveries.

Understanding why spinal cord injuries are nearly impossible to heal sheds light on the significance of this breakthrough. The human spinal cord is one of the most complex biological systems known to science—it is a mechanical, chemical, and electrical arrangement of different types of cells working in harmony to produce and regulate a multitude of neurological functions, including a natural, elegant gait. This cellular complexity amplifies the challenges to effectively treating paralysis caused by injury to the spinal cord.


Author: Michael David Mitchell

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