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US Department of Defense helps move spinal cord injury treatment closer to clinical trials
Date:6/21/2010

The United States Department of Defense Spinal Cord Injury Research Program has announced a grant of more than a million dollars U.S. to support research at the Robarts Research Institute at The University of Western Ontario (Western). The spinal cord injury research team of Gregory Dekaban, Arthur Brown, Lynne Weaver and Paula Foster, in collaboration with Brian Kwon of the University of British Columbia and Kyle Petersen of the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center, is working on a new therapy designed to limit the damage caused by inflammation immediately following spinal cord injury. The grant will move their work, led by Dekaban, closer to a clinical trial.

Nearly a quarter of wounded military personnel requiring evacuation from the field suffer spinal cord or traumatic brain injury. As well, 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injury occur every year in the North American civilian population. Spinal cord injury creates physical, psychological and financial challenges to the injured and their families. These injuries are also a significant burden for health care systems.

Spinal cord injury occurs in two stages. The first is the physical injury from trauma; the second stage, that extends the initial damage, is caused in large part by inflammation in the spinal cord. "This antibody therapy is designed to be given by intravenous injection as soon as possible after a person comes into the emergency department with a spinal cord injury, or at least within 24 hours," explains Dekaban, a Robarts Scientist in the Molecular Brain Research Group and Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. "In our preclinical models, it's been shown to make a significant improvement in recovery. This antibody treatment could also be effective for traumatic brain injury. "

The antibody targets a protein known as CD11d on the surface of inflammatory cells that circulate in blood.
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Contact: Kathy Wallis
kwallis3@uwo.ca
519-661-2111 x81136
University of Western Ontario
Source:Eurekalert

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