Antón Barreiro-Iglesias, John Kramer and António Salgado, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Department of Functional Biology, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Baclofen as a potential treatment to promote recovery from spinal cord injury

Funded in: 2019, 2020, 2021


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Problem: No pharmacological treatment promotes recovery after a spinal cord injury

Target: Baclofen administration in the early phases of spinal cord injury promotes neurologic recovery

Goal: Provide the necessary data to initiate the translation into the clinic

 

Traumatic spinal cord injuries cause permanent paralysis and loss of sensation. At present, no pharmacological treatments have been translated to the clinic that can promote recovery after a spinal cord injury.

Spinal cord injured patients often develop other symptoms like involuntary muscle spasms. These muscle spasms can develop very early in the course of spinal cord injury, and are usually treated with drugs like baclofen, which strongly inhibit central nervous system function. Despite decades of application in humans, the effects of baclofen on neurologic recovery have never been examined.

Dr. Kramer’s group has recently completed an analysis of data from an observational study in humans, which found that baclofen administration in the first month post-injury was associated with enhanced neurological outcomes (Cragg et al., 2019). In parallel, data from Dr. Barreiro’s group also showed that baclofen administration in a fish model of spinal cord injury promotes neuronal survival and regeneration (Romaus-Sanjurjo et al., 2018). More recently, and based on the human and fish data, the group of Dr. Salgado, in collaboration with Drs. Barreiro and Kramer, has obtained preliminary data looking at the effects of baclofen after spinal cord injury in mice. Preliminary results indicate that baclofen administration also promotes recovery in mice.

Based on this cumulative knowledge, they propose that baclofen administration in the early phases of spinal cord injury promotes neurologic recovery. This will be addressed in this project through the design of a contemporary observational study in human patients with spinal cord injury, performed in parallel with preclinical experiments in rodent models. The scientists hope that this international and collaborative project will provide the necessary data to initiate the translation into the clinic.