Erik Sundström group

Neural Cell Therapy and Repair

Research focus

The aim of our research is to develop cell therapy for spinal cord injury, in particular to treat post-traumatic syringomyelia (PTS). Persons with spinal cord injury may develop PTS many years after injury. Expanding cysts in the spinal cord tissue cause destruction of the nervous tissue, and further loss of motor and sensory functions, increased spasticity and chronic pain.

The surgical treatment is however too often not sufficient. Our hypothesis is that a better treatment can be achieved by combining surgery with transplantation of various types of stem cells. Our primary goal, and the main interest of the patients, is to develop a treatment by which stem cells injected in the area of the cysts - in conjunction with the surgical treatment - induce a permanent collapse of the cysts that prevents further cyst expansion. But our goal is also that the transplanted cells will replace the nerve cells that died after the spinal cord injury.

The stem cells we use include several types of immature cells that can mature into various sorts of cells. To study which types of stem cells that are most useful as treatment, we isolate different cell types by cell sorting, study their maturation and how the fate of these cells can be controlled using factors present in immature tissue. The potential of these factors are then studied in transplantation experiments using a rat model of PTS that we have developed. If we are successful, the transplanted cells will mature into the cells that make up the circuitry of the spinal cord, that were lost after the spinal cord injury and during the expansion of PTS cysts. We believe this could lead to patients regaining important functions.

We also study the normal human development, with a particular focus on the central nervous system with the spinal cord. We use various techniques to determine and define what immature cell types there are in the tissue, and how they mature to become the cells of the adult tissue. This knowledge is important for example to understand how transplanted stem and progenitor cells can replace tissue which has been lost due to injuries or diseases. The project is a part of the Human Cell Atlas, an international consortium for identifying the complete atlas of all human cell types (

Group members


Erik Sundström

Telefon: 08-585 838 87
Enhet: Sundström

Biomedicinsk analytiker

Lena Holmberg

Enhet: Sundström


Tingting Xu

Telefon: 076-294 33 39
Enhet: Sundström

Selected publications










Differences in proliferation rate between CADASIL and control vascular smooth muscle cells are related to increased TGFβ expression.
Panahi M, Yousefi Mesri N, Samuelsson E, Coupland K, Forsell C, Graff C, et al
J. Cell. Mol. Med. 2018 Jun;22(6):3016-3024


Per Henrik Vincent, 2017: Specification and potency of neural stem cells for clinical transplantation

Ning Xu, 2015: Assessment of rat spinal cord injury models