Newswise — A multi-million dollar grant from the United States Department of Defense (DoD) will allow six hospital centers, including the Methodist Neurological Institute (NI), to expand a spinal cord injury research network created by the Christopher Reeve Foundation (CRF). The North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN) was organized by the CRF to bring promising therapies for spinal cord injury from the laboratory to clinical trials in an effective manner with maximum safety to patients undergoing treatment for their spinal cord injury.
As many as 400,000 Americans, many of them in the military, live with paralysis caused by spinal cord injury. The CRF’s North American Clinical Trials Network is collaborating with the DoD to optimize the requisite infrastructure to conduct clinical trials on emerging therapies that may one day help those living with paralysis. The $2.5 million grant will enable NACTN’s expansion to include military and additional civilian hospitals and, eventually, Veterans Administration Centers.
“The CRF was forward thinking enough to anticipate that sooner, rather than later, viable potential therapies would begin to emerge from the research pipeline and so it began to build the infrastructure that would be necessary to ensure safe and effective clinical trials,” said Susan Howley, executive vice president and director of research of the CRF.
NACTN is collaborating with a similar European Union clinical consortium to define the “natural history” of spinal cord injury, create an international database of uniformly characterized spinal cord patients, and develop improved, more sensitive outcome measures to assess efficacy of the experimental therapies. In the process, the networks are building the foundation for a global effort that will help speed development of effective treatments for spinal cord injury and deliver them to people who need them.
A myriad of data, from the time of injury through twelve months post-SCI, is collected from the acute spinal cord patients who consent to be enrolled in the NACTN data registry; included is information on their management and their immediate and long-term Functional outcomes. Since inception, an approximate 135 patients have been enrolled in the registry.
“For decades, we’ve medically managed spinal cord injuries, but we need effective therapies and new surgical approaches,” said Dr. Robert Grossman, chair of neurosurgery at The Methodist Hospital and co-founder and director of the Methodist NI. “We know that SCI therapies are on the horizon, and our goal is to bring those treatments to our patients.”
NACTN is comprised of major North American hospital centers, including the Methodist Neurological Institute, Houston, TX; University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, TX; Northwestern University-Rehabilitation Institution of Chicago, Chicago, IL; University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; and University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA; NACTN’s Biostatistical Center is in a separate location at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. As a result of the DoD award, the immediate new NACTN sites will be Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC; University of Louisville, Louisville, KY; and University of Maryland Medical System, Baltimore, MD.
The North American Clinical Trials Network is supported by the Christopher Reeve Foundation and U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command under Contract No. W81XWH-07-1-0361.
The Christopher Reeve Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis through grants, information and advocacy. For more information please visit our website at www.ChristopherReeve.org or call 800-225-0292.
For more on the Methodist Neurological Institute, visit www.methodistneuroinstitute.com, or call (713) 790-3333.