Spinal cord injuries affect thousands of people every year and lead to a drastic decrease in the quality of life for those affected. With these injuries, the blood-spinal-cord barrier (BSCB) can become damaged. As a result, a glial scar forms to acutely protect the spinal cord from foreign body infiltration. However, this glial scar prevents nerve cells called axons from regenerating. Due to the decreased permeability of the spinal cord as a result of the BSCB and glial scars, drug and gene therapies are difficult to administer effectively at the injured site. By applying focused ultrasound (FUS) in combination with microbubbles, it is possible to open both the blood brain barrier and the blood spinal cord barrier. By locally opening the BSCB, an increase in permeability at the injury site could potentially improve the effectiveness of drug and gene therapies for rehabilitation. Our lab aims to implement FUS and microbubbles to open the BSCB in a rat injury model. Using gadolinium contrast and MRI images, we can quantify the opening of the BSCB as a result of FUS treatment at the injury site.
Payne, A. H., Hawryluk, G. W., Anzai, Y., Odéen, H., Ostlie, M. A., Reichert, E. C., ... & Cross, D. J. (2017). Magnetic resonance imaging-guided focused ultrasound to increase localized blood-spinal cord barrier permeability. Neural regeneration research, 12(12), 2045.