HistoryThe foundation for the Research on the
Spinal Cord Lesions arises in 1980 from the past surgical experiments
performed by prof. G. Brunelli (been chairman of the chair of orthopaedics
and traumatology of the medical school of the University of Brescia) and
by his team.
At that time the knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the spinal
cord was extremely poor and limited to few basic scientists. Prof. Brunelli
who for 20 years searching on the peripheral nerve repair and regeneration
treating patients, set his mind on searching to cure also the spinal cord
In the subsequent years the "Associazione per la Ricerca sulle Lesioni
del Midollo Spinale" was constituted that included also the Italian
Group of Study on Paraplegia which cooperated with the Institutes of Physiology,
Pharmacology, Biology, Pathology, Histology and Patholgogy of the Brescia
University and with the neurophysiology of the Spedali Civili di Brescia.
In 1998 the association was transformed in the Foundation for the research
on spinal cord lesions by a notarial act rep. 84751, Rac. 12214 of the
public notary Dr. Faraldo.
When it still was association its researchers besides working the laboratories
of the association in Italy in 1994 and 1995 went to Sweden, Stockolm,
to performs research on non human primates (macaca fascicularis) as at
that time the association had not the permission to operate on primates
In the following years having obtained the proper permission, research
was continued in Italy in the laboratories of the association and afterwards
of the foundation. Results were very promising and allowed to obtain the
permission from the Ethical Committee of the Italian National Service
to operate on voluntary human being completely informed.
The first operation was done on a woman in 2000. She had a complete transaction
of the cord at TVIII and the operation put an autologous nerve graft from
the corticospinal tract above the lesion to the proper nerves of muscles
of the lower limb (bilaterally) excluding the lower motoneurons contained
in the cord below the lesion. The result is a rudimentary but efficient
walking with the help of quadripode sticks.
This result was presented at the 4th International Symposium on Spinal
Cord Repair in 2002 and stired admiration and surprise in the audience
because by this operation the muscles are innervated directly by the upper
motoneurons that use glutamate as neurotransmitter whereas normally the
muscles respond to a different neurotransmitter that of the lower motoneurons
Rita Levi Motalcini, Nobel Laureate, exorted us to search for the real
way the muscles respond to glutamate.
Research with this goal used a new surgical experimental model and passionately
and feverishly involved during the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 the researcher
of the foundation as well as those of the Dept. of Biomedical Sciences
and Biotechnologies, Dept. Of Pharmacology Tossicology and experimental
therapy and the Biochemical section of the Brescia Medical School and
of the Neurophysiological dept of the Spedali Civili di Brescia.
This research obtained a clamorous result that has been published in June
2005 by the prestigious Journal P.N.A.S..
The research is still in progress.