2018 World Premiere: a life-changing therapy for SCI patients

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A new therapeutic approach to repair spinal cord

NEUROGEL™ embodies a new therapeutic approach based on a world patented synthetic material : an extracellular matrix designed to be implanted in lesions of the spinal cord.

Moelle épinière

vue au microscope

Scanning electron micrograph of NEUROGEL™

NEUROGEL dans la moelle épinière

NEUROGEL™ graft within the spinal cord : the cells invaded the porous structure of the gel and differentiated to create a neotissue.

rôle du neurogel

Role of NEUROGEL™ as a support matrix in the repair of cells and nerves in a chronic lesion. Picture of a rat’s compressed spinal cord grafted with NEUROGEL™ three months post injury. The growth of myelinized nerve fibers (Ax) through the pores of NEUROGEL™ (P, polymer balls,) and the presence of glial cells can be observed. The grafted rat showed recovery of locomotor functions.

AN INNOVATING PRODUCT

The scientific project aims at solving the problem of the regrowth of nerve fibers following a lesion of the spinal cord, with NEUROGEL™.

NEUROGEL™ is a biocompatible polymer, entirely synthetic, 96% water. Its essential features are its porous structure and the fact that it permits diffusion of molecules in a way that is reminiscent of properties of the embryonic brain. NEUROGEL™ plays the role of a growth matrix which enables the reconnection of the nerve fibers. NEUROGEL™ creates an artificial environment the cells from the nervous system recognize as identical to the embryonic stage As cellular environments, growth factors, molecules and proteins are "fertilizers" capable of stimulating the re-growth of nerve fibers; NEUROGEL™ offers a favorable "soil" for the re-growth. Grafted to the nerve tissue, the gel reduces the formation of the glial scar and of the destructive phenomena that ensue, allowing rapid irrigation by the blood vessels through the gel. Vascularization of the gel provides a favorable environment for the regeneration of the nerve fibers as well as other cells of the spinal cord. Finally, tests have proven that NEUROGEL™ is neither toxic, nor mutagen and does not require anti-rejection treatment. It can be sterilized, stocked and produced in large quantities within a short time.

LESION REPAIR

There are two types of lesions of the spinal cord : acute (recent) lesions with no scar tissue and chronic (old) lesions on either side of which a scar called « glial » scar has formed.

Once implanted into the site of an acute or chronic lesion of the spinal cord, NEUROGEL™ plays a major role in cellular repair : it can permanently replace the cavity created by the surgical removal of the damaged nerve tissue (such as the glial scar or the synringoyelic cavity.) This hydrogel encourages the regeneration of cells, blood vessels and nerve fibres without any rejection phenonemon (= risk of rejection). This repair process will therefore allow parts of the nerve fibers to reconnect from the brain to the paralyzed limbs.

POTENTIAL FOR NERVE REGROWTH

Regrowth of nerve fibers is now a recognized phenomenon : it has been demonstrated that severed axons of the spinal cord have a considerable potential for regeneration, even after several years.
Actually, a percentage of about 10% of nerve fibers is sufficient to induce recovery of motor functions so that the expected “Regeneration of 18% of the nerve tissue would represent a huge progress in the quality of life of the patients.” (Dr. Alfredo GORIO’s intervention at Neurogel en Marche Oct. 29-30, 2009 meeting in Prague – as summarized in video on Association’s website) Finally, the vast majority of spinal cord injuries in humans are incomplete lesions in which numerous nerve fibers remain intact but non functional.

SOLVING THE GLIAL SCAR ISSUE

The problem is that regeneration is doubly hampered : first, by the formation of a glial scar after the initial trauma, which generates a barrier on either side of the lesion; secondly, by the damage caused to the intervertebral space between these two scars.

NEUROGEL™ : A SUPPORT MATRIX

The original idea was to create a synthetic “tissue” that could function as a support growth matrix for the damaged nerve fibers, and regenerate a connection to the cells controlling the muscles in the limbs. This matrix, with a hormonal combination therapy, could function as a “stake” (or scaffolding) through which the fibers could pass to rejoin the area below the lesion. Herein lies all the originality of this research compared to the leads followed by other teams throughout the world. The entire NEUROGEL™ project is geared toward a single objective: to help paralyzed people (paraplegics and quadriplegics) regain, inasmuch as possible, the sensory and motor functions they lost due to a more or less severe lesion of the spinal cord.