Welcome to the Plant Lab

The Giles Plant Laboratory aims to elucidate new cellular and molecular repair strategies to improve functional and anatomical outcomes following spinal cord injury (SCI).

The current research areas of the laboratory are:

  1. Efficacy of human neural stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS) lines to improve functional outcomes in cervical SCI
  2. Capacity of intraspinal and intravenous mesenchymal stem cells to improve functional outcomes in cervical SCI models in rats and mice
  3. Assessment of adult and embryonic olfactory glia capacity to induce axonal regeneration and myelination in the injured and demyelinated central nervous system (CNS)
  4. Endogenous stem cell responses within defined models of SCI, and
  5. Biomaterials for spinal cord injury.

The laboratory utilizes spinal cord contusion injury modeling and behavioral assessments using forelimb and hindlimb tests. The laboratory uses a variety of molecular and cellular techniques to assess the results of stem and glial cell spinal transplantation. Viral vectors are used to deliver pro-regenerative genes into adult CNS neurons to improve axonal growth after injury. We also obtain representative maps of cortical areas innervating the forelimbs, both before and following therapies. They are generated through intracortical stimulation using electrophysiology techniques. Understanding how the brain changes after SCI is important in determining how new connections are made and how injured limbs are reconnected from supraspinal areas.

The long term goals are to develop neuroprotective and regenerative translational protocols for human clinical treatments. It is hoped that patients will have improved motor, sensory and autonomic functions, as well as experiencing fewer secondary complications such as bladder and bowel dysfunction, autonomic dysreflexia, pain and spasticity; the ultimate goal is in improving the quality of life for patients with SCI.