EINDHOVEN, Netherlands & LAUSANNE, Switzerland–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ONWARD today announced the publication of a study in the journal, Nature, which found targeted electrical spinal cord stimulation stabilizes blood pressure in people with spinal cord injury (SCI).
“A serious and underrecognized result of spinal cord injury is unstable blood pressure, which can have devastating consequences that reduce quality of life and are life threatening. Unfortunately, there are no effective therapies for unstable blood pressure after spinal cord injury,” said Dr. Aaron Phillips, PhD, a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and Libin Cardiovascular Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) and co-lead author of the study. “We created the first platform to understand the mechanisms underlying blood pressure instability after spinal cord injury, which allowed us to develop a new cutting-edge solution.”
Loss of movement and sensation are the most commonly known impacts of spinal cord injury, but SCI is also frequently accompanied by other effects that challenge activities of daily living. Blood pressure instability is one such effect, making it difficult for people with SCI to change body position – moving from lying to sitting to standing. In this study, researchers from University of Calgary, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), and University Hospital Lausanne (CHUV) demonstrated they could quickly and accurately normalize blood pressure with electrical spinal cord stimulation. Stabilization was observed in rodents and non-human primates for extended periods after acute and chronic spinal cord injury, and the approach also showed promise in humans.
This research is a breakthrough in the fundamental understanding of how blood pressure regulatory circuits function in people with SCI and sets the foundation for further studies assessing the use of electrical spinal cord stimulation to regulate blood pressure and other autonomic functions in people with SCI.
“We used similar concepts and technologies to restore walking after paralysis and are now pleased to leverage those advances to address this very common but serious effect of SCI,” said Dr. Grégoire Courtine, PhD, Professor at EPFL, Director of .NeuroRestore, and co-lead author of the study. “We look forward to working with ONWARD to conduct clinical trials in humans so this approach can be translated into a viable therapeutic option for people with SCI.”
This research will be further advanced by a $36 million contract granted by the United States Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) for a five-year project to develop neurotherapeutics that bridge the gap between the spinal cord and the brain after spinal cord injury. The DARPA contract enables an alliance of 12 institutions around the world that includes EPFL, University of Calgary and ONWARD to conduct groundbreaking research in the pursuit of new therapies for spinal cord injury. DARPA has helped develop major technological advancements including the internet, GPS and Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface (SIRI.)
ONWARD (@onwdempowered), formerly known as GTX Medical, is a medical technology company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative therapies to facilitate functional recovery of people with spinal cord injury. Driven by a mission to restore movement, independence, and health in people with spinal cord injury, ONWARD’s work builds on more than a decade of basic science and preclinical research conducted at the world’s leading neuroscience laboratories. ONWARD’s ARC Therapy, which can be delivered by implantable (ARCIM) or external (ARCEX) systems, is designed to deliver targeted, programmed stimulation of the spinal cord to restore movement and other functions in people with spinal cord injury, ultimately improving their quality of life. Both of ONWARD’s technology platforms have been awarded Breakthrough Device Designation by the FDA.
ONWARD is headquartered at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands and the EPFL Innovation Park in Lausanne, Switzerland, with a growing U.S. presence in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. For additional information about the company, please visit ONWD.com and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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