Acorda is currently exploring several members of the chondroitinase protein family in preclinical studies as a potential treatment for spinal cord injury (SCI).
Nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord have been shown to be capable of some degree of self-repair, but this repair is usually limited by substances in the neural tissue that limit regeneration and plasticity of connections. Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs), a component of the scar matrix that forms after injury, are among the most potent inhibitors of plasticity and repair. Their normal role in the brain and spinal cord also includes the restriction of changes in connectivity between nerve cells.
Acorda is studying the effects of chondroitinase, a bacterial enzyme that has been shown to inactivate CSPG inhibition of neural plasticity and regeneration to improve motor and sensory function following SCI. Published preclinical studies from more than a dozen independent laboratories have demonstrated that the application of chondroitinase resulted in improved recovery of function following injuries to various areas of the brain or spinal cord. These functions included walking, forelimb grasping, sensation, binocular vision and bladder control.
Chondroitinase may also have other applications in conditions where nervous system plasticity and recovery from injury is limited.