“How Pet Dogs Can Help Us Understand the Value of New Therapies for Spinal Cord Injury” Nicholas Jeffery, BVSc, PhD

Dr. Nicholas Jeffery Working 2 Walk 2015 Chondroitinase dog trial

Dr. Nicholas Jeffery
Working 2 Walk 2015
Chondroitinase dog trial

Pet dogs commonly suffer spinal cord injury, mainly because many small breeds are susceptible to degeneration of their intervertebral discs, which then rupture and cause injury to the spinal cord. Veterinarians treat the resulting spinal cord injury in ways that are very similar to those used in human patients and most cases recover good function. However, despite treatment some dogs are left permanently incontinent and paralyzed in the hind legs. Nowadays, many owners are able to care for these dogs, who can then continue to live long and happy lives. On the other hand, it would be desirable if we, as veterinarians, were able to reverse these deficits and so these affected dogs can be candidates for novel therapies designed and tested in laboratories by experimental scientists.

When we test these therapies in pet dogs, they can be viewed more like ‘small people’ rather than as ‘large rats’, because each dog has unique features about the nature of the injury – its size, location, precise mechanism of injury and the pattern of persistent deficits in function. This means that these dogs form an ideal group in which to test whether a therapy thought to be useful based on effectiveness in laboratory animals (that all have more-or-less identical injuries) might actually have sufficient impact to be useful for people. Both groups are clinical patients with all the variability and difficulties in detecting effects that implies.

Based on this idea of clinical comparability we have previously tested one promising therapy for spinal cord injury in people: olfactory ensheathing cell transplants, and we are currently testing another: injection of chondoitinase ABC. This presentation will show how the dogs are tested and the type of outcome that can be observed. Here is the Facebook Link to the Chondroitinase Dog Trial in Ames, Iowa.

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