Paralyzed Veterans of America continues its mission of changing lives and building futures by supporting a new year of innovative research
The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Research Foundation maintains a strong and firm commitment to support groundbreaking research that improves the lives of everyone with spinal-cord injury and disease (SCI/D).
The foundation recently awarded seven grants, totaling almost $900,000, to scientists and researchers across the nation who are dedicated to leading the charge of discovering novel treatments and potential cures for SCI/D.
Grants are offered in four categories, which are basic science, design and development of assistive devices, clinical applications, and postdoctoral fellowships to foster the development of career SCI/D investigators, which are crucial to advance this field.
Sarah Moyon, PhD
Following are brief descriptions of the 2015 PVA Research Foundation grant awardees and their respective studies:
Astrocyte Glutamate Transporters & Chronic Neuropathic Pain Following SCI
Angelo Lepore, PhD
Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia)
$150,000 (two years)
Stem cell transplantation-based replacement of astrocytes is a novel and potentially powerful therapeutic strategy for central nervous system diseases such as spinal-cord injury (SCI).
In this PVA project, we’re testing such an approach for mitigating SCI-induced neuropathic pain. Development of neuropathic pain occurs in a significant portion of patients following SCI, resulting in debilitating and often long-term physical and psychological burdens. With the goal of developing a clinically translatable therapy for patients, we are testing transplantation of astrocytes derived from induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells into a cervical contusion mouse model of SCI.
These iPS cells represent an exciting and clinically relevant technology for homogeneous derivation of mature cell types in large quantities for applications such as transplantation, importantly in an autologous fashion from the eventual patient recipient. It’s critical to test their therapeutic efficacy in affecting key functional outcomes critical to patients, such as neuropathic pain in SCI models.
A Novel Combinatorial Therapy to Overcome Paralysis after SCI
Steve Perlmutter, PhD
University of Washington
$150,000 (two years)
Movement deficits constitute one of the most debilitating consequences of SCI, but current treatments produce limited improvement.
This project will evaluate a novel combinatorial therapy to restore voluntary arm and hand movements after cervical SCI. The therapy modifies the connectivity and function of neural pathways above and below the injury by facilitating and directing natural mechanisms of learning. In a rat model of SCI, localized activity-dependent electrical stimulation and pharmacological agents will be delivered to the spinal cord to induce plasticity in specific, movement-related circuits.
The therapy is designed to produce lasting recovery; that is, improvements in movement abilities that persist after the treatment is ended.
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