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Thread: Report on Spinal Cord Injury Research Conference, day 2

  1. #1

    Report on Spinal Cord Injury Research Conference, day 2

    Sorry I've taken so long to follow up.... I've been crazy busy, yearning for the day when I can load up GTA4 on my PS3, and spend the whole day stealing cars, shooting cops and making sexy time at the strip clubs. This being a grown up stuff is way overrated. Anyways the same caveats apply about day 2. I'm not very smart but I'm getting better at faking it every day!

    So on Thursday, the first session dealt with new techniques in rehabilitation. After the intro, Dr. Monica Gorassini gave a lecture about using intensive locomotor training to induce plasticity in the spinal cord in incomplete injuries. Sylvie Nadeau then talked about her efforts to enhance sensory motor function and locomotor recovery using targeted training.

    The next lecture I found particularly interesting. Presented by Arthur Prochazka, one of his experiments consisted of of attaching FES cuffs around the wrists of a quadriplegic. The quad had a bluetooth type device in his ear that registered tooth clicks. When he clicked his teeth, the FES cuffs would stimulate the appropriate muscles, enabling him to grasp things. They showed a video of a quad crushing a beer can! Right on! They also designed a workstation hooked up to a computer to help improve coordination and aid in movement for high quads, and created a new system that lets therapists supervise people in their homes using this workstation using the inter tubes and the Google.

    Next up was Milos Popovic with whom I had the pleasure of dining with the evening before. He is all about brain-machine interfacing. Electrodes were placed over the motor cortex (not inside the brain, unfortunately ) to read the signals from the brain when it sends messages to the upper limbs. Maybe one day, we won't even need a spinal cord!

    The next session had two lectures concerning MRI. P.W. Stroman talked about his method of functional magnetic resonance imaging and how it was used in his lab to provide reliable spatial representation of the anatomy of the spinal cord and software adapted to specifically study the spinal cord using MRI.

    On a similar note, Julien Cohen-Adad followed with a new technique to examine MRIs called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Using DTI, his lab was able to further examine MRIs, imaging specific spinal pathwaysand axon disruption. There was a lot of math in this one,so I had a hard time following.

    I have more to talk about (actually the biggest surprise), but I have to leave the office. Back soon!

  2. #2
    whaaaaat! "the biggest surprise" what a teaser! you! get back here!

  3. #3

    Soafter lunch, Dr. Fehlings from U of T gave a lecture about breakthroughs coming down the clinical trial pipeline. He started off talking about the need for a combination of therapies for chronic injuries. For example, using one therapy to remove the scar tissue around the injury site, then using another thrapy to regenerate the spinal cord. He then talked about a planned clinical trial to determine the neuroprotective efficacy of riluzole for acute patients. Then he talked about the progress of Cethrin, as he was one of the lead investigators in the clinical trials. It's established that Cethrin is non-toxic: of the 40ish patients who were administered Cethrin there were a total of over 450 secondary complications immediately post-trauma. We all know about those. Zero of these were related to Cethrin.

    One 64 year-old male test subject had fallen down the stairs at his shop. He was found 8 hours later with a c4 ASIA A fracture. His MRI looked nasty and it was a miracle he survived. He was administered 6mg of Cethrin for an alotted period of time... I think it was two weeks. One year later, this 64 year old man has gone from a c4 ASIA A to a c4 ASIA D. Video footage showed him using all 4 of his limbs. Alseres bought the rights to Cethrin a year ago and are now trying to raise funds to start phase 2a/3 clinical trials. THIS TRIAL NEEDS TO MOVE FORWARD!!!!! IMO, this could be a huge step forward in treating acute spinal cord injuries, and combined with other therapies, could have huge implications for chronics, ie. us, as well.

    I'll post more later.

  4. #4
    That was worth waiting for! thank you

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Thank you for posting! I can't wait to hear more!!

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by christopher

    I'll post more later.
    Yes, please do! Thanks for taking the time...

  7. #7
    Thx Chris! I appreciate your uplifting report.

  8. #8
    Hi again. Once again, my apologies. I gotta start carting a laptop with me to take notes for these things.

    So... after Dr. Fehlings gave his little dissertation there, Armin Curt, from UBC/ICORD, talked about their efforts to map out the spinal cord and each function related to each vertebrae. Their study shows that changes within spinal segments occur in a different pattern than within longitudinal spinal pathways. Every SCI is different, and they're out to map each one of us!

    John Steeves, from ICORD, then gave a lecture entitled Designing Valid SCI Clinical Trials. He mentioned what to look for in test subjects, the problem of everybody having a unique injury, thus making it harder to differentiate between the experimental treatment and the control group. Then he mentioned experimental treatments in emerging nations, and what healthcare professionals should recommend to their patients seeking these treatments. You can download some of this informaton at ICORD's website here. It's a worthwhile read for all of us.

    Yvonne Sturm from Novartis then talked about the progress in Dr. Schwab's lab with a human anti-Nogo-A antibody (is that a triple negative?), ATI355. The first human trials are ongoing.

    Susan J. Harkema, from University of Louisville followed by talking about her efforts inducing plasticity in the spinal cord in complete injuries through locomotor training. There was definite improvement in the subject through the year, but personally, the amount of staff and equipment needed to hold a complete quad in a treadmill and make them walk just didn't look feasible to me.

    And finally, Charles Tator closed the convention talking about the history of Canada's involvement in spinal cord injury research in Canada. From penecillin, WWII to Rick Hansen and the possibilities of new therapies coming down the pipeline, I was pretty impressed.

    My overall feeling coming out of this convention was pretty hopeful. The cure won't come tomorrow, but it will come. I'd say in 5 years, an acute complete injury could possibly become a thing of the past.

  9. #9
    "My overall feeling coming out of this convention was pretty hopeful. The cure won't come tomorrow, but it will come. I'd say in 5 years, an acute complete injury could possibly become a thing of the past."

    I Hope you're right.

    Thanks again, and now back to gta4

  10. #10
    Senior Member lynnifer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Windsor ON Canada
    Awesome Chris! I especially like the news for quads re: FES wrist cuffs ... were they something you could see yourself using?

    The only thing I don't understand is the ICORD segment thing of the spinal cord .. I thought we already knew which vertebrae segments of the spinal cord were responsible for what.

    No improvements for bowel and bladder?
    Roses are red. Tacos are enjoyable. Don't blame immigrants, because you're unemployable.

    T-11 Flaccid Paraplegic due to TM July 1985 @ age 12

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