Recent advances in the therapeutic uses of chondroitinase ABC.
Muir E, De Winter F, Verhaagen J, Fawcett J
Many studies, using pre-clinical models of SCI, have demonstrated the efficacy of chondroitinase ABC as a treatment for spinal cord injury and this has been confirmed in laboratories worldwide and in several animal models. The aim of this review is report the current state of research in the field and to compare the relative efficacies of these new interventions to improve outcomes in both acute and chronic models of SCI. We also report new methods of chondroitinase delivery and the outcomes of two clinical trials using the enzyme to treat spinal cord injury in dogs and disc herniation in human patients. Recent studies have assessed the outcomes of combining chondroitinase with other strategies known to promote recovery following spinal cord injury and new approaches. Evidence is emerging that one of the most powerful combinations is that of chondroitinase with cell transplants. The particular benefits of each of the different cell types used for these transplant experiments are discussed. Combining chondroitinase with rehabilitation also improves outcomes. Gene therapy is an efficient method of enzyme delivery to the injured spinal cord and circumvents the issue of the enzyme's thermo-instability. Other methods of delivery, such as via nanoparticles or synthetic scaffolds, have shown promise; however, the outcomes from these experiments suggest that these methods of delivery require further optimization to achieve similar levels of efficacy to that obtained by a gene therapy approach. Pre-clinical models have also shown chondroitinase is efficacious in the treatment of other conditions, such as peripheral nerve injury, stroke, coronary reperfusion, Parkinson's disease and certain types of cancer. The wide range of conditions where the benefits of chondroitinase treatment have been demonstrated reflects the complex roles that chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (its substrate) play in health and disease and warrants the enzyme's further development as a therapy.