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8 November 2006

An Antibody against Acute Paraplegia?

Clinical study conducted by the Orthopaedic Hospital of the University of Heidelberg tests tolerance of a new medication

Total paraplegia/tetraplegia defies medical treatment. If the spinal cord is completely severed, the result is irreversible loss of motility and feeling in the entire part of the body below the site of the lesion. A new European study, conducted in Germany by the Orthopaedic Hospital of the University of Heidelberg, has now set out to establish whether a new form of medication can be tested on patients with acute paraplegia (paralysis of the legs). The tolerance study began in May 2006 and has so far involved a total of 5 patients in various European centres.

The medicine in question is the so-called anti-Nogo antibody, which intercepts proteins that prevent the regeneration of transected nerve fibres. It can however only be efficacious if it is administered into the corticospinal fluid in the vicinity of the lesion within a few days of the event causing the damage.

"Investigations in the lab and animal experiments have shown one thing," says Professor Dr. Hans Jürgen Gerner, medical director of the Orthopaedics II Department of the Orthopaedic Hospital of the University of Heidelberg. "The antibody stimulates the sprouting of the nerve fibres. The motility functions can be partly restored." Professor Gerner is in charge of the test and his department is the only university institution among the internationally recognised centres specialising in paraplegia/tetraplegia.

As the medication is initially only to be tested for tolerance on 16 patients, nothing can as yet be reliably said about its efficacy. But if the study outcome is positive, it will be tested on a further 50 or more patients.

Orthopaedic Hospital, University of Heidelberg on the internet: www.orthopaedie.uni-heidelberg.de

Professor Dr. Hans Jürgen Gerner
Director of Orthopaedics II Department
phone: +49-6221-966322
fax: +49-6221-966345 (secretary Frau Höfer)
e-mail: Erika.Hoefer@ok.uni-heidelberg.de

Dipl-Ing. Rüdiger Rupp
phone: +49-6221-969230
fax: +49-6221-969234
e-mail: Ruediger.Rupp@ok.uni-heidelberg.de

Journalists should address their inquiries to
Dr. Annette Tuffs
Press and Public Relations Officer
Heidelberg University Hospital
Medical Faculty of the University of Heidelberg
Im Neuenheimer Feld 672
phone: 06221/564536
fax: 06221/564544
mobile: 0170/5724725
e-mail : Annette_Tuffs@med.uni-heidelberg.de

Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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