SpinalCure is pleased to announce our continued support over three years for this work, led by Associate Professor Marc Ruitenberg from the University of Queensland, into the inflammatory response and predicting outcomes of new spinal cord injuries — essential for progress towards a cure.

A/Prof Ruitenberg said, “This inability to predict outcomes currently is a major problem in the field of SCI research, hampering our ability to demonstrate the effectiveness of new experimental treatments.”

“Addressing this, if successful, would not just help with assessing new treatments given in the very early stages of an SCI, but potentially also much older injuries.”

In announcing the renewed funding, Kathryn Borkovic, SpinalCure’s CEO, commented, “SpinalCure is proud to have supported Marc’s research since 2011 when he was an early career researcher.

“Marc’s work is world-leading, with an anti-inflammatory drug trial recently completed for treatment of early injuries.

“This fantastic progress demonstrates how investment in a promising researcher early on can reap benefits,” added Ms Borkovic.

Dr Ruitenberg’s work will also help us better understand the ‘inflammatory phase’, which is usually a crucial part of healing and injury recovery. However, in spinal cord injuries, it appears that there is excessive, non-resolving inflammation and scar tissue formation that hinders repair, and the reason why this happens isn’t well understood.

“If we are to find a cure for SCI, we must address this knowledge gap, so we can make sure the inflammatory response helps to heal the spinal cord and doesn’t contribute to scarring and a failure to regenerate,” Ruitenberg said.

The funding will help support two components of Marc’s diagnostic research:

  • Imaging protocols for specialised MRI scans that will allow clinicians to visualise the impact of their work to see how the nerves in the spinal cord are changing. This will help focus and assess improvement during rehabilitation.
  • Using biomarkers in blood samples to help work out what movement and/or level of recovery you’ll get. This will give an indication of the expected trajectory recovery, including how this is improved with IVIG therapy (experimental anti-inflammatory drug) or any other intervention.

Further information about SpinalCure’s support of Associate Professor Ruitenberg’s work: