In case you haven’t heard, the first 2 research projects for Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) have been awarded. One is an Epidural Stimulation Trial through a partnership between Hennepin County Medical Center and the University of Minnesota. The second is a combination study of Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells (OPCs) and Scar Ablation study in rodents through the University of Minnesota and longtime study supported by the Spinal Cord Society. Each was awarded $125,000 through the Office of Higher Education.
The first is very exciting because it will be trialed in a human cohort with chronic injuries this year!…starting with a few and hoping to expand to more individuals pending more grants. This project not unlike the ones you may have heard about seeks to stimulate movement through the implantation of a small device with electrodes placed over the spinal cord. This has been shown to be effective in several studies around the world to control some movements in the lower extremities and in some cases resulted in return of bowel/bladder/sexual function.
The second is a longtime project funded by the Spinal Cord Society whose lab has relocated to the University of Minnesota under the direction of Dr. Ann Parr.. This study hopes to show that the scar resulting from injury can be reduced in order for regeneration to occur using OPCs which have been studied to remyelinate damaged nerves. Their intent is to prove the strategy efficacious and then follow with a request for human trial.
Thanks to all of you for staying with us over the years, writing and calling legislators, offering your moral support and just being an ear. We are all very excited to watch this unfold as we try and do our part to expedite innovations for the treatment of paralysis from SCI.
If you want to read about a side benefit from this effort, read the previous blog post: Not Just About Money…or something like that.
Thanks again check out GUSU’s Press Release below and pass it along.
4930 Sleepy Hollow Rd
Excelsior, MN 55331
Tax ID #: 47-1331871
-State Grant Committee for Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury Research approves research grants
-Two studies to improve function for Spinal Cord Injuries will be funded at HCMC & the U of MN (TC)
-Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis donates $15,000 to state grant program
Minneapolis, Minnesota (January 25th, 2016) The Minnesota Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury
Research Grant Program announced grant recipients that funds innovative treatments for functional
improvements for those suffering from spinal cord injuries. The grant recipients for spinal cord injury
research are studying Epidural Spinal Cord Stimulation for Spinal Cord Injury to improve mobility and
function and Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cells and Scar Ablation for the Treatment of Chronic Spinal
There are an estimated 10,500 people in Minnesota suffering from chronic spinal cord injuries (SCI) and
around 276,000 people in the United States. SCI’s affect mobility, the ability to live independently,
regulate body temperature, blood pressure, and many other critical functions of the body. As the
average age for injury is around 25 years old, estimated lifetime healthcare costs can amount to over $4
million/ person with patients typically dependent on government support.
The Minnesota Spinal Cord & Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program is run under the
Minnesota Office of Higher Education and was established by the Minnesota State Legislature in 2015
through engaged individual community advocates with SCI’s. Sen. John Hoffman (D) and Rep. Rod
Hamilton (R) championed and authored this legislation. The program allocates $500,000 in grants per
year, plus public donations, to be administered by a state appointed council of community members
and professionals under the guidance of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. This grant program
is modeled after 12 other state grant programs. Education, Healthcare, and Industrial institutions are
eligible to receive these grants. Donations can be made to the state grant program to increase the
amount of the grants.
“Spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries can happen in an instant and change a person’s life, and that
of their family, forever,” said Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Office of Higher Education (OHE).
“These four grants continue the State’s focus on advancing medical research and care.”
“The Spinal Cord and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Grant Program will help bring innovative and
robust research to Minnesota which will help improve the quality of research and medical technology
in Minnesota. This will ultimately bring effective treatments for functional improvements to
Minnesotans in need faster.” -Rob Wudlick, Chairman, GUSU2Cure Paralysis
Epidural Stimulation for Spinal Cord Injuries will be delivered to human patients with SCI this year at
HCMC. This research has made it possible for human patients with complete paralysis to stand up,
move limbs that were once paralyzed, and regain critical internal body functions. The research will be
studied in collaboration at Hennepin County Medical Center and the University of Minnesota and will
study the effects of this treatment in people under the direction of David Darrow, MD MPH and Uzma
Samadani, MD, PhD. The process involves implanting a spinal cord stimulator, such as one currently on
the market made by Medtronic for the treatment of nerve pain, and adjusting the settings to a specific
electrical impulse to excite the nervous system so individuals can move their previously paralyzed
muscles. It is like a hearing aide for the spinal cord.
Research in Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cells (OPC) and Scar Ablation for the Treatment of Chronic
Spinal Cord Injury will be conducted in laboratories with rodents at the University of Minnesota, under
the direction of Ann M. Parr, MD, PhD. OPC’s are neural stem cells made from cells of the donor’s body.
These cells have many advantages compared to other stem cells, as they are non-embryonic and don’t
pose ethical concerns and they are cells taken from the same subject that receives the treatment which
means the person will not need to take immune suppression drugs because the tissue used is not a
donor transplant. One of the major challenges in spinal cord injury regeneration is the scar tissue left
behind in the spinal cord after injury which prevents nerve regrowth. Research supported by the Spinal
Cord Society has developed a compound to reduce the scar tissue. This research is unique, as it will be
the first time these two perspective treatments will be combined in the laboratory.
Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis (GUSU) is a Minnesota community lead nonprofit organization that
advocates, educates, and supports spinal cord injury research for functional recovery. Members of
GUSU championed the advocacy for several years in the Minnesota State Legislature to pass the
Minnesota Spinal Cord & Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program. In 2015, GUSU raised $15,000 to
contribute to the grant program for spinal cord injury research. GUSU also leads monthly peer support
groups and peer mentoring for those with spinal cord injuries and family members.
Media Information/ Contact:
Get Up Stand Up to Cure Paralysis
Matthew Rodreick, Executive Director, Matt@gusu2cure.org, Cell 612-834-5472
Rob Wudlick, Chairman, firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell 612-916-3389
Past Relevant Articles:
www.gusu4cure.org (advocacy blog)
Minnesota Office of Higher Education:
Official State Report: http://www.ohe.state.mn.us/pdf/SCI-TBILegislativeReport.pdf
Contact: Dr. Nancy Walters at 651-259- 3907 or Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3202 or by email at
Senator John Hoffman (Senate Author): email@example.com , 651-296-4154
Representative Rod Hamilton (House Author): firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-296-5373
4930 Sleepy Hollow Rd
Excelsior, MN 55331
Tax ID #: 47-1331871
David Darrow, MD MPH, Principal Investigator, U of MN, (Contact Caroline Marin at 612-624-
5680 or at email@example.com to request an interview with any expert from within the
University’s health sciences programs.)
Oligodendrocyte Progenitor Cells (OPC) and Scar Ablation for the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury:
OPC/ Lab Research: http://legacy.kare11.com/story/news/local/2013/11/25/3712885/
Ann Parr, Principal Investigator, U of MN, (Contact Caroline Marin at 612-624-5680 or at
firstname.lastname@example.org to request an interview with any expert from within the University’s health
Scar Ablation: http://www.scstwincities.org/research.html
Mike Jannsen, Executive Director, MN Spinal Cord Society, email@example.com
(organization supporting preliminary scar ablation research)