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Why canine patients provide an important ‘missing link’ in spinal cord injury

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  • UserProfessor Nick Jeffery, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge
  • ClockWednesday 30 September 2009, 15:30-16:00
  • HouseWest Road Concert Hall.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Hannah Critchlow.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Clinical Neuroscience and Mental Health Symposium, 29th – 30th September 2009 at West Road Concert Hall. This event is free to attend for cambridge neuroscientists although registration is required. To register, and for further information, please visit:

Talk Abstract: A large number of interventions have been shown to enhance the outcome after spinal cord injury (SCI) in experimental rodents. Many of these have potential for conversion into plausible clinical therapies but translation from lab to clinic requires additional data derived from other models of SCI . For instance, determination of effects in experimental SCI in primates – to evaluate effects on the corticospinal tract. It would also be helpful to determine whether statistically demonstrable effects observed in homogenous experimental rodents are likely to translate into clinically useful gains in function after the inevitably heterogenous injuries that occur in clinical patients. Clinical canine SCI cases can be used for this line of investigation.

SCI in dogs occurs at a high incidence, probably at least 3000-4000 cases p.a. in the UK. The pathogenesis of SCI in dogs is similar to that in most humans and experimental rodents, usually resulting from a mixed contusive-compressive event, such as occurs in association with a spinal fracture-luxation or following acute extrusion of the nucleus of the intervertebral disc (a common occurrence in small breed dogs). The diagnosis (MRI, electrodiagnostics), treatment (decompressive surgery, when required) and prognosis for SCI in dogs are all very similar to their equivalents in human medicine. Whilst many dogs recover after conventional therapy a small proportion do not regain adequate pelvic limb and bladder and bowel control. This group therefore represents an ideal population in which to test the efficacy of novel therapies for SCI .

In our current phase II trial we are comparing the effects of intraspinal OEC transplants with that of carrier medium alone on the outcome after severe SCI in dogs. We are using electrodiagnostics, cystometry and computer-assisted gait analysis to quantify the outcome, thus providing data that will be of direct relevance to treatment of similarly affected human patients.

References: Hamilton L, Franklin RJ, Jeffery ND. Development of a universal measure of quadrupedal forelimb-hindlimb coordination using digital motion capture and computerised analysis. BMC Neurosci. 2007; 8:77.

Jeffery ND, Smith PM, Lakatos A, Ibanez C, Ito D, Franklin RJ. Clinical canine spinal cord injury provides an opportunity to examine the issues in translating laboratory techniques into practical therapy. Spinal Cord 2006 44: 584-93.

This talk is part of the Clinical Neuroscience and Mental Health Symposium series.

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