Stephen Strittmatter, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States

RESET- ReNetX Safety Efficacy and Tolerability of AXER-204 for Chronic SCI

Funded in: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

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Problem: Reduced functional recovery in Chronic Spinal Cord Injury

Target: Intrathecal lumbar infusions of AXER-204 (NoGo Trap) in subjects with chronic spinal cord injury

Goal: Demonstrating safety, tolerability and efficacy to improve motor function by promoting neural plasticity and the regrowth of neural networks.

Strittmatter, who serves as Director of Yale’s Department of Cellular Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration and Repair, has been trying to solve the puzzle of re-growing damaged nerves for the past decade. When someone is injured and suffers nerve damage, he says, “it interrupts the fibers between the nerve cells but leaves a lot of them alive. We need to reconnect them—to reestablish the neural network.”

In the early 2000s, Strittmatter zeroed in on three proteins of interest—Nogo-A, MAG and OMgp—all of which limit the ability of nerve fibers—or axons—to grow. His team then found a receptor for these proteins and created a decoy—dubbed the “Nogo Trap”—that prevents the nerve fiber receptors from “seeing” the inhibitors. When Strittmatter put this molecule into the spinal fluid of rats with damaged spinal cords—nearly a third went from not being able to walk to full mobility, even after a three-month delay period between injury and treatment. Findings were published in the Journal of Neuroscience and Nature among others.

To date there are no approved restorative treatments available for patients with chronic spinal cord injury. Many of the molecules, drugs and devices are being tested, he says, “but they are generally focused on starting treatment right at the time of injury.” The drug he is developing is designed to work “after the nervous system has settled down and someone is left in a wheelchair—that’s the stage we’re trying to treat.”  ReNetX Bio – the company formed with Dr. Strittmatter’s work - is currently working with the FDA to launch a clinical trial for early 2019. “It’s been my goal for 10 years to get to clinical trial,” he says. “It’s incredibly exciting to see this progress.” The team is grateful for Wings for Life’s support.