Curing Spinal Cord Injury: research progress – is it only about science?

Will Elan Musk's Neuralink cure paralysis?

Curing spinal cord injuries / reversing paralysis: is there progress in research? Is it just about science? Or are there other prerequisites e.g. in the market, for people to walk again?

Interview with Dr Mark Bacon, PhD – July 2022

Clear progress is being made as can be seen by a steady rise in commercial outfits developing treatments preclinically and clinically. Of note has been a renaissance in the use of electrical neuromodulation of the spinal cord with Onward a good example of healthy investment matched by excellent marketing –  others are now entering this space. Such healthy competition can only be a good thing in driving further innovation, optimisation and clinical application.

The apparent commercial attractiveness of SCI is good to see as it follows a period of interest in cell-based therapies entering the clinic and a series of unconvincing results posted by a number of companies.

Neuroplasticity-enhancing interventions still remain of great scientific interest. However, one of the most effective experimental examples of this, chondroitinase-ABC, frustratingly remains untested in humans. This underlines the need for a clear commercialisation strategy and strong intellectual property rights when developing treatments. As the field matures, there are signs of greater commercial awareness with financial investments matched with business acumen, and scientific expertise.

Overall, there are encouraging signs that Spinal Cord Injury is an emerging market that can maintain the interest of investors and new treatments are filling a small but expanding pipeline. The prospects of an effective treatment being available is ever nearer.


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