With increasing regularity, biomaterials are being designed with the goal of promoting repair of the injured spinal cord. Most often, the efficacy of novel biomaterials is tested using in vitro models; however, their true potential will be realized only after they are applied and evaluated in standardized in vivo spinal cord injury (SCI) models. The purpose of this review is to (1) provide a primer on SCI research including an overview of common pathogenic mechanisms that may respond to biomaterials and the in vivo models and outcomes assessment tools used to evaluate therapeutic efficacy; (2) review the types of biomaterials that have been tested in these models; (3) discuss which biomaterials might be applied to these models in the future; and (4) recommend future engineering strategies to create better in vivo models and assessment tools.
Crit. Rev. Biomed. Eng.39, (2011).