Project information

Translational Initiative- research into treatments

We want to turn research into actual treatments for paralysis. The Translational Initiative will develop four of the most promising potential treatments so that they are ready to be tested in clinical trials with paralysed volunteers. Safe, effective treatments would revolutionise paralysed lives

January 2011 - March 2014

Charity information: Spinal Research

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  • Need


    The consequences of a spinal cord injury are immediate, devastating and life-long. Approximately 50,000 people in the UK are paralysed as and globally, the total figure is around 2.5 million. Injury often results from a road or sporting accident or fall and the majority of injuries occur amongst active 18-35 year olds. With an increased number of falls occurring in an ageing population, the average is rising. Every day, three people are paralysed. There is currently no cure but we are VERY CLOSE


    We are urgently seeking investment for a major move forward, the Translational Initiative. A recent major strategic review identified four of the most promising therapies currently being developed in laboratories with the potential to transform lives devastated by paralysis. The Translational Initiative will fast track these treatments, each with proven results in the laboratory, and overcome specific technical hurdles so that they are ready to be tested on paralysed volunteers.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To reduce the level of damage & degree of paralysis following a spinal cord injury


    » To develop an inject-able form of treatment & define the most appropriate dose and route of administration ready for trials with paralysed volunteers.

    Success will be when we have developed a suitable inject-able form of
    treatment and defined the most appropriate dose and route of administration for clinical use.

    Aim 2

    To promote nerve regrowth to restore connections and functions such as movement and sensation.


    » The research will use specialised growth cells found in the nose that promote nerve regeneration and new connections following a paralysing injury.

    We will identify procedures that will allow human cells to be grown in “clean room” facilities ready for transplantation into patients suffering paralysis of the arm.

    Aim 3

    To remove the barrier of scar tissue which blocks the way for regrowing nerves following injury.


    » We will develop a safe ‘humanised’ form of chondroitinase, an enzyme which breaks down scar tissue and promoted nerve growth, for clinical trials.

    Success will be when we develop a ‘humanised’ form of chondroitinase which will not be rejected by the body and will be safe for use in humans.

    Aim 4

    To examine two possible mechanisms of repair in the spinal cord using Schwann Cells


    » We will examine how autologus transplantation of Schwann cells and skin-derived Schwann cell repair a SCI in preparation for a clinical trials

    Success will be when we have identified if autologous transplantation of Schwann cells (SC) or skin-derived SC better repairs the damaged spinal cord.

  • Impact


    Each of the treatments is effective on its own. They each work by different mechanisms and it is likely that, ultimately, they will be useful in combination to great effect.

    It may also be the case that different spinal cord injuries will
    respond preferentially to one or another. All must be developed to a state ready for first clinical use.

    We believe that the Translational Initiative will take us a significant step closer to beating paralysis and transforming lives.


    The nature of pioneering research means that we venture into unknown territory and so the risk is that we never truly know the outcome of a project in advance. Our application and review process works to mitigate this risk. The 18 members of our scientific committee are widely regarded as the best in the field and collectively they peer review all applications. We then choose to fund only those with the strongest preliminary data and anticipated outcomes which link to our overall aims.


    We receive progress reports from all of our projects every 12 months - if a project has more specific results every 6 months. We share these updates immediately with all our donors. Our Director of Research regularly speaks with donors and we can arrange lab tours to visit the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £866,323

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £178,108 Early Intervention Strategy Research Project
      £256,000 olfactory ensheathing cells Research Project
      £232,215 chondroitinase Research Project
      £200,000 Schwann cells Research Project

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Individual gifts, charitable foundations and trusts £205,736 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Early intervention strategy - Barts and the London School of Dentistry and Medicine.

    Olfactory ensheathing cells – University College London

    Chondroitinase - University of Cambridge

    Schwann cells- Miami Project to cure paralysis - USA


    The ultimate beneficiaries of our research will be those affected by paralysis – people who have suffered a spinal cord injury, their families and friends.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have a long-standing reputation amongst the scientific community for the quality of our research and are internationally respected. All projects we fund are peer-reviewed by our Scientific Committee (comprising of some of the best experts in the field) and adhere to strict guidelines and controls. We give priority to research into chronic conditions and non-locomotive functions, knowing that improvements in bladder, bowel and sexual function would increase quality of life for many people.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Mark Bacon

    As Director of Research Dr Bacon guides our research strategies and helps to select only the most promising projects to fund.