Researcher focuses on the repair of spinal cords

November 11, 2013 by Lainie Rusco

A spinal cord injury can be a devastating condition, often resulting in life-long disability and a range of secondary complications.

Wichita State biological sciences assistant professor Li Yao has dedicated his research to finding therapeutic strategies that would repair those injuries and allow patients to live a more comfortable life.

Yao came to WSU in 2011 and has since established a research lab on the fifth floor of Hubbard Hall to investigate . His lab includes undergraduate and graduate students and a post-doctoral researcher.

He said he's received a lot of support from the university in terms of equipment and space, including a surgical room.

Together Yao and his students are investigating different methods to promote the repair and regeneration of injured spinal cords and peripheral nerves. Their approaches include using biomaterial scaffolds, stem cells, gene vectors and electric signals.

It's a continuation of work Yao did prior to coming to Wichita State.

He was trained on at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. After that, he performed the spinal cord regeneration research in animals at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Yao developed a biodegradable neural conduit to treat wounded spinal cords. The conduit provided guidance architecture to direct tissue formation after spinal cord injuries and provided a reservoir for prolonged therapeutic gene vector delivery.

Through that research, he and his team reported significant regeneration in damaged , work he is expanding further now.

"The complicated pathological process presents significant challenge to clinicians and scientists to repair the injured spinal cords," Yao said. "Our findings will potentially lead to the development of novel clinical strategies to treat patients."

Explore further: Stem cell scarring aids recovery from spinal cord injury

Related Stories

Stem cell scarring aids recovery from spinal cord injury

October 31, 2013

In a new study, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden show that the scar tissue formed by stem cells after a spinal cord injury does not impair recovery; in fact, stem cell scarring confines the damage. The findings, ...

Stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury

September 25, 2012

Stem cells are considered promising agents for the recovery of spinal cord injuries. European scientists explore their abilities and plan future therapeutic strategies.

Recommended for you

Synthetic 3D-printed material helps bones regrow

September 28, 2016

A cheap and easy to make synthetic bone material has been shown to stimulate new bone growth when implanted in the spines of rats and a monkey's skull, researchers said Wednesday.

Epigenetic clock predicts life expectancy

September 28, 2016

UCLA geneticist Steve Horvath led a team of 65 scientists in seven countries to record age-related changes to human DNA, calculate biological age and estimate a person's lifespan. A higher biological age—regardless of chronological ...

Engineered blood vessels grow in lambs

September 27, 2016

In a hopeful development for children born with congenital heart defects, scientists said Tuesday they had built artificial blood vessels which grew unaided when implanted into lambs, right into adulthood.

Fighting the aging process at a cellular level

September 22, 2016

It was about 400 BC when Hippocrates astutely observed that gluttony and early death seemed to go hand in hand. Too much food appeared to 'extinguish' life in much the same way as putting too much wood on a fire smothers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.