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Projects. Life and Matter Sciences

The subarachnoid administration of previously cryopreserved allogenic stromal cells in traumatic spinal lesion

Lead Researcher:
Mercedes Zurita Castillo

Research Centre:
Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro Majadahonda.


Mercedes Zurita CastilloTraumatic injury to the spinal cord is a clinical entity that has been known since ancient times. It is highly important in medical as well as in social terms, given that it is one of the most important causes of disability, with very serious consequences for the personal, family and professional life of those who suffer this lesion. Great advances have taken place in the treatment of patients with spinal cord lesions over recent decades, although these centre on the prevention of complications, and although many lines of research are open in this field, there is still no effective treatment that is able to achieve the complete functional recovery of patients with traumatic spinal cord injury, whose deficits are usually permanent and irreversible in most cases. From the studies by Ramón y Cajal in 1914 to date, many publications have centred on the possibilities of regeneration of the spinal cord following traumatic paraplegia, using experimental models that involve enormous technical difficulty due to the need for long-term storage of paraplegic animals (Fraidakiset et al., 2004; Chopp et al., 2000; Hofstetter et al., 2002; Ohta et al., 2004; Parr et al., 2007, Zurita et al., 2004; 2006).

The aim of this project is to evaluate the efficacy of the subarachnoid administration of allogenic cryopreserved mesenchymal stem cells in an experimental model of chronic established traumatic paraplegia in adult pigs (minipigs), comparing the utility of this technique when subarachnoid administration is at a lumbar level or locally, around the zone of the spinal injury. The minipigs will be subjected to a traumatic lesion of the spinal cord at a dorsal level, causing complete and irreversible paraplegia that will be allowed to become chronic before the transplant of the stem cells.

Mercedes Zurita Castillo

She holds a Degree in Biology from Complutense University, Madrid (1985-1990). Doctorate awarded a mark of Excellent cum laude in 1994. Training in Neurobiology in the Cellular Biology Department of Complutense University, Madrid, and the Neuroscience Research Unit (UINC) of Puerta de Hierro University Hospital, as a pre-doctoral (1990-1994) and post-doctoral (1994-2003) intern. More than 40 additional training courses as Neuroscience. Researcher in the Miguel Servet programme of the Health Research Fund (2003-2009). Since 2009, Miguel Servet Researcher, attached to the UINC of Puerta de Hierro-Majadahonda University Hospital (Prof. J. Vaquero). More than 100 papers in international journals, with an h index of 16. Two text books and 11 chapters in books, 110 communications to congresses. Participation in more than 30 national research projects with competitive funding, as Principal Investigator in 6 of these. Director of 7 research courses, 23 Research Prizes, 2 patents. Member of 8 Scientific Associations, including the International Brain Research Organization. Corresponding Member of the Royal Academies of Medicine and Surgery in Galicia, Seville and Valladolid. Professor of Cell Biology at the School of Nursing in the Puerta de Hierro Hospital since 1992. Accredited as a Tenured Professor (2010). Currently head of the spinal regeneration laboratory in the UINC of the Puerta de Hierro-Majadahonda Hospital, and Technical Director of the Cell Production Facility of this Unit, within the neurological cellular therapy programme applied to spinal lesion patients.

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