In support of human trials
Chondroitinase ABC in the canine model
In 2013 Spinal Research agreed funding to Iowa State University to study a trial of heat-stabilized chondroitinase ABC in dogs with a naturally-occurring severe chronic spinal cord injury that models the condition in humans.
Pet dogs are susceptible to acute spinal cord injury and these dogs undergo similar diagnostic, surgical and rehabilitation procedures to their human counterparts. For this study, dogs with spinal cord injuries were recruited from vet surgeries. After initial neurological examination, and obtaining written informed consent from the owners, the dogs were formally admitted to the trial. The study aimed to find further evidence to support human trials. Using a randomised, blinded study, some dogs were treated with chondroitinase ABC and some were not.
The scientists measured the effects of the treatment in dogs for:
• skin sensitivity (sensation)
• bladder filling, pressure and voiding
• fore and hind limb motor function
Research outcomes in the chondroitinase treated dogs
• no evidence of neuropathic pain arising from treatment
• bladder function: improved ability to retain urine at one month but this did not persist
• fore and hind limb function: improved hindlimb, forelimb coordination
• three dogs in treated group regaining ability to walk unassisted
The researchers concluded “…that this study provides strong evidence in support of initiation of clinical trials of chondroitinase ABC in humans with chronic spinal cord injury.”
The therapy did not uncover any safety concerns and the treated group undoubtedly showed improved outcomes when compared to untreated controls. Clearly, it is difficult to make an assessment on how humans would respond to this treatment, that would require a human trial. A response rate of 10% for unaided walking does provide vets and dog owners a far better indication of the odds of this procedure being successful, and a much better basis for a discussion on the risk benefit.
Full research paper published in The Brain February 2018