The DOD awarded the two-year, peer-reviewed grant to the Reeve Foundation’s North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN), a consortium of university hospital neurosurgical and neurorehabilitation teams to bring promising therapies into clinical trials. Led by Dr. Robert G. Grossman, professor of neurosurgery at The Methodist Hospital Neurological Institute in Houston, NACTN gathers and documents patient medical information in a data registry to better understand the body’s natural course of recovery after injury; uses standardized patient assessment protocols and develops new ones; and conducts new trials of therapy for spinal cord injury. NACTN recently concluded a Phase 1 safety study of the drug Riluzole. NACTN’s research was featured prominently in a recent Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine supplement that provided unique insights into the development of translational research for the treatment of patients with spinal cord injury.
“Our goal is to bring effective treatments from the lab to the servicemen and women on our frontlines,” said Grossman, NACTN’s principal investigator. “With the support of DOD and the Reeve Foundation, our network has a unique opportunity to move safe and potentially viable treatments from the research laboratory into the clinic – this is critically important because presently there are few treatment options for these patients other than standard medical care.”
The funding will support a Phase 2/3 efficacy trial of Riluzole, a neuroprotective drug that is the only FDA-approved drug used in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Laboratory studies have shown it to be effective in limiting traumatic damage to the spinal cord.
“It’s so important that for the last ten years, DOD has recognized the need for spinal cord injury research,” said Alan MacLeod, a partner with Capstone National Partners. “Their support for this often overlooked area of has been critical.”
NACTN, launched by the Reeve Foundation in 2004, originally had six centers in North America. Since then, the network has expanded to ten clinical sites, a data management center and a pharmacology center. NACTN clinical sites are at The Methodist Hospital Neurological Institute, Houston, TX; Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA; University of Louisville, Louisville, KY; University of Maryland Medical System, Baltimore, MD; University of Miami, Miami, FL; University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX; University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Washington, DC; and Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio, TX. The data management center resides at the University of Louisville and the pharmacology center is located at the College of Pharmacy, University of Houston.
“Spinal cord injuries can be devastating and this DOD award affords us the opportunity to test promising interventions in clinical trials and identify effective treatments for this country’s war wounded and for spinal cord patients throughout the world,” said Susan Howley, the Reeve Foundation’s executive vice president for research.
The North American Clinical Trials Network is presently supported by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command under contracts No. W81XWH-10-2-0042 and W81XWH-13-2-0040. For information on the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, visit www.christopherreeve.org.
Capstone National Partners is a bi-partisan public affairs firm in Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee, WI that helps businesses, research institutions and non-profits navigate Washington. For more about Capstone, visit www.capstonenp.com.