Clinical trial will target spinal-cord injuries

The University of Arizona Medical Center is the site of a two-year clinical trial for a drug that could help people with acute spinal-cord injuries.

Sixty trauma centers in the U.S., Canada and Europe will test the safety and efficacy of the investigational drug SUN13837, to determine whether it can protect and regenerate spinal nerves, UA Medical Center officials say.

The study is sponsored by Asubio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Patients will be randomly assigned to receive either a placebo or SUN13837 within 12 hours of injury and then daily for 28 days.

SUN13837 mimics beta fibroblastic growth factors, which keep neurons alive and healthy and promote regrowth.

UA Medical Center patients in the study will be followed at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Institute of Tucson.

To be considered for the study, a participant must have suffered a spinal-cord injury within 12 hours prior to receiving the first dose of the medication and be available for daily dosing for 28 consecutive days.

UA Medical Center officials say the local teaching hospital is the only top-level (Level One) trauma center in the Southwest that will take part.

UA surgeons Dr. Randall Friese and Dr. Rein Anton are leading the study.

Acute spinal-cord injury occurs in 13,000 to 15,000 individuals in the United States each year; well over half of the cases experience quadriplegia, a UA news release says.

Presently, no drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada to treat the paralysis and sensory loss that occur after an acute spinal-cord injury.

For more information on the study, go to the UA surgery department website at online.

By Stephanie Innes

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