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The human spinal cord is non-regenerative, so once injured, the damage is generally permanent. The past several decades, Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) treatments focused on stabilization and easing pain, but have not addressed the loss of mobility and feeling that normally accompanies such injury.


In the 1990s, Dr. Jerry Silver discovered that glial scars that form in the injury location inhibit cellular events needed for neural tissue repair. A decade later, he and colleagues at Harvard co-discovered the molecules which inhibit the repair bind to specific protein receptors present in the brain and spinal cord. With this knowledge, they were able to create a cell penetrating peptide that is composed of 35 amino acids, which bridges the gaps created by the scaring tissue, ultimately allowing the nervus system to regenerate. The drug is called NVG-291.


NVG-291R was tested on rodents with incredible results. The chart below shows the average impact of the drug on the rodents using the Basso, Beattie, Bresnahan rating scale, where a value less than 5 corresponds to almost zero movement and a value of 21 corresponds to normal functionality, respectively. The drug was administered to a portion of the rodents for the first 7 weeks, which lead to nearly a 10 point difference after twelve weeks between the two groups. Improvements were also seen in the the rodents when administration of the drug was delayed for 12 weeks, but there was less benefit.

NVG-291 Chart.png

Videos of the results are shown below. The placebo group are shown on the left and the representative NVG-291 group is shown on the right. There is a clear distinction of improvement for the rodents which received the drug.  

Placebo Group

NVG-291 Group

These are amazing results; however, they still need to be tested on humans. Obviously, there are significant physiological and genetic differences between rodents and humans, so this study gives hope that a similar drug could be produced to help SCI patients. Phase 1b/2a of clinical trials on a modified version of the rodent drug started this year, which generally focuses on safety, side-effects, and dosage.  It is common for clinical trials to take several years.

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