Groundbreaking research into the treatment of spinal cord injury is moving ever closer to human clinical trials.
Laboratory research has identified chondroitinase, a bacterial enzyme, as a treatment with the potential to prevent or reverse paralysis following a spinal cord injury.
Spinal Research, the charity behind the groundbreaking findings, held a reception at King’s College London to showcase the developments.
Chief Executive of Spinal Research, Jonathan Miall said the reception provided an opportunity for people to learn more about the work of the charity as it “draws ever closer to human clinical trials”.
The aim of the charity is to find an effective treatment for spinal cord injury that not only improves sensation and movement for people living with paralysis, but ultimately conquers it. One such treatment is chondroitinase, which has been proven in the laboratory and now requires modification into a form that is safe for use in humans.
The following research projects involving chondroitinase are currently being funded by Spinal Research:
Dr Elizabeth Bradbury, a leading expert in central nervous system regeneration in the spinal cord, has shown that treatment with chondroitinase reduces scarring, promoting axon regeneration and partial recovery following spinal cord injury in an animal model.
Dr Elizabeth Muir is currently part of a Spinal Research funded team at the Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, looking into the development of chondroitinase for use in clinical trials with spinal cord injury. So far this project has produced fantastic results which have already exceeded initial expectations. The team has shown that treated animal models have reduced scarring, preserved nerve function in the injury zone and demonstrated better recovery of normal movements. These results indicate that this new method for the treatment of spinal cord injury holds great promise, and has generated much excitement in the scientific community.
Spinal Research has also brought together a Chondroitinase Steering Group made of up six leading figures in the field, in order to formulate a plan to take the research to clinical trials. The development plan will outline the essential criteria and milestones this new treatment must achieve in order to enter a ‘first in man’ study, such as establishing the target patient group and most effective method of delivery.