Researchers from the University of Birmingham recently published findings from a Phase 2 clinical trial for AZD1236, a drug under development to reduce secondary damage produced by the body’s response to spinal cord injury.
Upon spinal cord injury, the blood-spinal cord barrier can break down, resulting in the build-up of fluid around the spinal cord, which triggers inflammation. This inflammation can hinder the healing process and lead to nerve cell death.
AZD1236 was designed to suppress this inflammatory response in order to minimize damage and promote recovery. This latest trial involved animal models, and researchers found that AZD1236 can promote significant nerve regeneration, with an 80% preservation in nerve function following spinal cord compression injury.
Researchers also noted an 85% improvement in movement and sensation. These effects were observed following three days of treatment with AZD1236, with treatment beginning within 24 hours post-injury. Within three weeks, the AZD1236-treated animals showed unprecedented recovery, while control animals still showed significant deficits at six weeks post-injury.
AZD1236 is a potent and selective inhibitor of two enzymes, MMP-9 and MMP-12, which are implicated in the inflammatory process. If approved down the road, this drug has the potential to be a first-in-class treatment against some of the key pathological drivers of spinal cord injuries.