Here are 10 key updates in spinal cord injury research this year.
1. A federal court ordered that Sunrise, Fla.-based regenerative medicine companies US Stem Cell Clinic and US Stem Cell stop providing stem cell treatments to patients. The U.S. alleged that the defendants advertised "stromal vascular fraction" products as stem-cell based treatments for conditions such as spinal cord injuries without FDA approval.
2. Saluda Medical agreed a four-year loan with Medtronic to develop its Evoke evoked action compound potential-controlled, Closed-Loop Spinal Cord Stimulation System for the treatment of chronic intractable pain of the trunk and limbs. The ECAP-controlled SCS system is Saluda's debut device, which measures the spinal cord's response to stimulation.
3. NervGen Pharma is using its developing drug technology for spinal cord injuries in a new multiple sclerosis program. Two studies demonstrated NervGen's NVG-291 technology to support nerve remyelination in spinal cord injury and MS animal models, making it a significant opportunity to become a therapeutic for MS.
4. Ottawa, Canada-based biomaterials startup Spiderwort closed a $500,000 oversubscribed friends and family funding round. The company's biomaterials have shown promise in the treatment of spinal cord injuries and soft tissue regeneration in pre-clinical trials.
5. Kessler Foundation received a $1 million donation to launch research at its new Center for Spinal Stimulation in East Hanover, N.J. CSS will study two treatments for recovery after spinal cord injury, transcutaneous and epidural spinal stimulation, which both apply electrical stimulation to the spinal cord to activate nerves.
6. The New Jersey Commission on Spinal Cord Research awarded $549,000 to Trevor Dyson-Hudson, MD, for research on spinal cord injuries. Dr. Dyson-Hudson, director of the Center for Spinal Cord Injury Research at Kessler Foundation in West Orange, N.J, is among three scientists who received a grant from the NJCSCR.
7. An experimental spinal cord treatment at Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center at the University of Louisville helped a paralyzed man regain some motion 10 years after his motocross injury. Kent Stephenson is one of 21 people to receive the epidural stimulator treatment, which utilizes an electrical current to stimulate the lower section of a patient's spinal cord.
8. Minneapolis-based University of Minnesota researchers developed an electric stimulation device that restored voluntarily movement in two patients with spinal cord injuries. Resident David Darrow, MD, is the principal investigator behind this preliminary study. Both patients were able to control and move their legs after being treated with the device.
9. In January, Asterias Biotherapeutics conducted a clinical trial to study the effectiveness of its OPC1 cells. Asterias found 32 percent of the patients recovered at least two levels of motor function on at least one side.
10. Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Institute of Engineering used 3D technology to print spinal cords. To test its effect on treating spinal cord injuries, the researchers implanted the scaffolding, which is loaded with neural stem cells, into rats with severe spinal cord injuries.