Spinal cord clinical trial offers new hope

People suffering spinal cord injuries could benefit from a world-first clinical trial to improve recovery from trauma by reducing harmful inflammation.

The trial, led by UQ, is seeing patients at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital being given a new anti-inflammatory drug within hours of their spinal trauma in an effort to minimise tissue damage.

The study is testament to the impact that philanthropic giving can have on research outcomes, with this work having received pre-clinical funding from SpinalCure Australia and also the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation.

Dr Marc Ruitenberg from the UQ School of Biomedical Sciences said that in spinal injury cases additional damage is caused post-injury, due to inflammation and swelling in the spinal cord.

“Up until now doctors had limited treatment options to deal with this problem,” Dr Ruitenberg said.

“What we discovered in our animal studies is intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) therapy can reduce this harmful inflammation and, excitingly, significantly improve the recovery from serious spinal cord injuries."

The trial will run for three years and aims to recruit 20 participants through the Princess Alexandra Hospital, which is Queensland’s primary centre for spinal cord injury care.

The research is now being supported in its clinical trial phase by CSL Behring, who is providing the IVIg and also the funding for the trial.

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