Neuralstem, announced that the Institutional Review Board of the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine has approved the phase I safety trial to treat chronic spinal cord injury (cSCI) with its NSI-566 stem cells. The NSI-566/cSCI phase I trial will enroll patients with thoracic spinal cord injuries (T2-T12) who have an American Spinal Injury Association (AIS) A level of impairment, between one and two years after injury. AIS A impairment, which is complete paralysis, refers to a patient with no motor or sensory function in the relevant segments at and below the injury.
The trial, which already has FDA approval, and has a one-year completion goal, will be under the direction of principal investigator (PI) Joseph Ciacci, managing director, UC San Diego School of Medicine and neurosurgeon at UC San Diego Health System. Much of the pre-clinical work with the NSI-566 cells in spinal cord injury was conducted at UC San Diego School of Medicine by Martin Marsala, managing director, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology, who will be another study investigator.
“Moving our spinal cord cells into human trials for a second indication in the US is a major step forward for the company,” said Karl Johe Neuralstem’s chairman of the board and chief scientific officer, “We have demonstrated that the surgical route of administration is safe and robust; that the cells survive transplantation and are biologically active in the patients, and that both the cells and the surgery are well-tolerated and safe. In animals, we have shown compelling proof-of-principle of return of significant function. With 30 successful spinal surgeries completed in our ALS trials, we feel we are ready to tackle spinal cord injury and are excited to begin this ground-breaking study. We wish to thank and acknowledge the support of our collaborators at UCSD, without whom this trial would not be possible.”
In a peer-reviewed study, published in the journal, Stem cell research and theraphy in May, 2013, rats transplanted with NSI-566 stem cells three days after a spinal cord injury at L3 (lumbar 3), showed improvement along several measures of motor function and a reduction of spasticity. The study demonstrated that intraspinal grafting of NSI-566 cells during the acute phase of a spinal cord injury could represent a safe and effective treatment that ameliorates post-injury motor and sensory deficits.
In a separate peer-reviewed study, published in the journal, cell, in August, 2012, rats with surgically transected spinal cords transplanted with Neuralstem’s NSI-566 stem cells, recovered significant locomotor function, regaining movement in all lower extremity joints. Furthermore, the cells turned into neurons which grew a “remarkable” number of axons that extended for “very long distances,” bridging above and below the point of severance. These neurons also appeared to make reciprocal synaptic connectivity with the host rat spinal cord neurons in the gray matter for several segments below the injury.
Patients wishing to find out about the trial should contact the principal investigator’s office: 619-471-0798.
There are more than 10,000 new spinal cord injuries (SCI) in the US each year. At the time of a recent survey done by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, there were approximately 840,000 people living with chronic SCI, which refers to patients in whom paralysis persists and becomes permanent. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, 85 per cent of SCI patients who survive the first 24 hours are still alive 10 years later.
Neuralstem’s patented technology enables the production of neural stem cells of the brain and spinal cord in commercial quantities, and the ability to control the differentiation of these cells constitutively into mature, physiologically relevant human neurons and glial cells.