The Continuing Search for Answers (part 2)

Reprinted from PN April 2000

The road to a cure for spinal-cord injury/disease has many twists and turns. Researchers pursue studies in a wide variety of areas—all with a common goal.

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Each year, the Spinal Cord Research Foundation's (SCRF) Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and Board of Trustees (BOT) evaluate applications for project funding in an effort to sustain quality spinal-cord research. During the Fall 1999 cycle, SCRF's SAB and BOT considered 63 grant applications and approved funding for 17 new projects. The funded proposals included nine in basic science and three in clinical research, a design and development project, and four fellowships. Two basic-science grants were funded by a generous donation from the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association (EPVA). Part 1 described the nine basic-science projects; highlights of the others follow.

Clinical Research

"Treatment of Pressure Ulcers in Spinal Cord Injury Patients" Dorne Yager, Ph.D. Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Va.
$79,032 (one year) Project goal: To determine whether antibiotics can successfully treat pressure ulcers, and whether natural agents in the blood can also reduce tissue destruction in pressure ulcers.

"Improving Tissue Viability of Paralyzed Muscle with NMES"
Ronald J. Triolo, Ph.D.
Case Western Reserve University
$40,257 (one year)
Project goal: To evaluate NMES's effectiveness in improving the properties of paralyzed muscle in order to reduce incidence of pressure ulcers in the SCI population.

"Use of Botulinum: A Toxin for the Treatment of Detrusor-Sphincter Dyssynergia in Spinal Cord Injury Patients"
Regina Hovey, M.D.
Long Beach VA Medical Center
Long Beach, Calif.
$114,045 (three years)
Project goal: To evaluate the usefulness of a chemical called botulinum A toxin to treat this condition. This toxin can be deadly, but when injected into muscles in tiny amounts, it causes only temporary paralysis of that muscle. Thus, it may be useful in relaxing the urinary sphincter to improve the ability to urinate.

Design & Development

"Effect of an FES System on Gait in Persons With Spinal Cord Injury" Janice Eng, Ph.D., P.T./O.T.
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
$71,380 (two years)
Recently, a new functional electrical stimulation (FES) system was developed to aid people with foot drop. This device has several improvements over the old system, and it seems to enhance walking endurance and assist users in making a more normal stride.
Project goal: To determine whether these observations are reproducible and generalizable to a large sample of patients.


"Adjustment and Service Needs of Families of Children With Spinal Cord Injury"
Jin Yong Shin, Ph.D. (Fellow)
Allen Heinemann, Ph.D. (Sponsor)
Northwestern University
$47,896 (one year)
No comprehensive studies have documented the long-term outcomes of families trying to adjust to a child's disability.
Project goal: To evaluate these variables in families including children with traumatic SCI, and to determine the strength of these variables in causing specific family outcomes.

"Axon Guidance by Novel Chemorepellent in Developing Spinal Cord"
Samantha Butler, Ph.D. (Fellow)
Jane Dodd, Ph.D. (Sponsor)
Columbia University
New York
$99,994 (two years)
Project goal: To characterize the role of specific members of the BMP (a protein) family in regulating axon guidance, determine how the growth cones at the ends of growing axons detect a gradient of these proteins in their environment, and to discover the types of intracellular signals that cause the nerve fiber to change direction.

"Pathophysiology of Muscle Spasms in Spinal Cord Injured Subjects"
Ruiping Xia, Ph.D. (Fellow)
W. Zev Rymer, M.D., Ph.D. (Sponsor)
Rehabilitation Institute Research Corporation
$99,449 (two years)
Project goal: To better understand the different reflex pathways involved in spasticity, in order to gain information that will be useful in designing therapies for these muscle spasms.

"Involvement of CCS and Aggregates in Motor Neuron Degeneration"
Jian Liu, Ph.D. (Fellow)
Don W. Cleveland, Ph.D. (Sponsor)
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, Calif.
$100,000 (two years)
Project goal: To evaluate the interactions between the protein CCS and the enzyme SOD1 in genetically engineered mice that either have a mutant form of the SOD1 gene or do not have the CCS gene at all; and to grow cells from these engineered mice in culture to determine how motor neurons die in these animals.

Contact: SCRF, (800) 424-8200 / (202) 416-7659. For the complete version of this article, call PVA Publications at (888) 888-2201 and order the April 2000 PN/Paraplegia News.


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The Continuing Search for Answers (part 2)


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