Researchers were able to map previously unknown complex molecular processes that occur at the cellular level after spinal cord injuries, giving hope for the development of successful gene therapies.

Spinal cord injuries (spinal cord injuries, spinal cord injuries) teach doctors a lesson: such problems are almost impossible to treat. The human spinal cord is one of the most complex biological systems known to science: a mechanical, chemical, and electrical arrangement of different types of cells that work together in harmony to create and regulate many neurological functions. This cellular complexity is responsible, among other things, for the difficulty of effectively treating paralysis caused by spinal cord injury.

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For this reason, the result of the Swiss researchers can be considered a real milestone. They were able to create a 4D model of spinal cord injury in mice, which can show how nearly half a million cells in the spinal cord react to injuries of varying severity. The model, called the Cell Atlas, could help researchers answer unsolved questions and develop new treatment methods for people with spinal cord injuries.

The researchers also used two innovative techniques to create the first comprehensive cellular map of spinal cord injury in rodent models. Single-cell sequencing examined the genetic makeup of individual cells. This method is not new, but recent developments have allowed to expand its scope, thanks to which it has become possible to perform a detailed overview of millions of spinal cord cells. Spatial transcriptomics is a cutting-edge technology that shows where cellular activities occur. This expanded the map to include the entire spinal cord, while preserving the spatial relationships and connections between different cell types.

The amount of data obtained in this way was so huge that new machine learning techniques had to be developed to process it. This computational approach uses artificial intelligence to not only map the instantaneous genetic responses of individual cells, but also to map these responses across the physical and temporal levels of the spinal cord.

This detailed map not only shows which cells are damaged, but also shows how they interact with each other and change during the injury and recovery process. This knowledge could be crucial for the development of cell-specific therapies and unique requirements for repair of different injuries. This may open the way to more effective and personalized treatments.

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