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Clinical Trials & Research

Research Spotlight

Urology Researchers Seek Innovative Treatments for Spinal Cord Injuries

Sylvia Suadicani, Kelvin Davies—researchers at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine—are part of an investigative team that recently received a $1.2 million grant from New York State to advance promising technology for treating paralysis and other effects of spinal cord injuries (SCI). The grant is one of nine totaling $5.7 million announced by Governor Cuomo. The funding will be administered by New York State Spinal Cord Injury Research program and represents the first round of competitive awards since funding was re-instated for the program in 2013.

Each year, approximately 1,000 New York residents and 12,000 Americans suffer SCI, and the associated loss of movement and well-being. While the inability to stand and walk is viewed by many as the major disability associated with SCI, patients with SCI list the recovery of proper bladder, bowel and sexual function as a top priority.

This important research will focus on advancing our earlier research to restore these functions. The team previously found that reducing levels of an enzyme called fidgetin-like 2 in cells unlocks their regenerative capacity and promotes rapid wound healing. Further research in animals indicates that nanoparticles can be used to deliver fidgetin-like 2 to desired locations to restore locomotion, bladder and erectile function following SCI. The project’s goals are to optimize treatment regimens for recovery from both acute and chronic SCI and to fully determine the molecular mechanisms underlying regeneration, from the level of individual cells to the entire animal.

The team members conducting the research will leverage their expertise in basic science and clinical research in the fields of cellular and molecular biology, urology and neuroscience. Other members of the research team include Moses Tar, MD, assistant professor of urology, and Lisa Baker, a Ph.D. student in Dr. Sharp’s lab. The team will work closely with the Block Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at Einstein and Montefiore to advance the technology from the lab towards a clinically available treatment. Go learn here to learn more about promising new urology research: www.montefiore.org/urology/research 

Improving Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes

Robert E. Michler, MDAtrial fibrillation (AF) is a condition that produces rapid and irregular heartbeats, and increases the risk for stroke and death. Treatments for AF include medical therapy, cardiac catheterization ablation or surgery.  While both can cure AF, ablation and surgery scar areas of heart tissue. Scarring—intended to take the bad circuitry out of the equation—is thought to be incidental to its effectiveness. Indeed, many patients in need of heart valve surgery may benefit from an AF procedure to eliminate their condition. To find out if such is the case, 20 centers in the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored Cardiothoracic Surgical Trials Network enrolled 260 AF patients who also needed mitral-valve surgery.  (Up to half of people needing mitral-valve surgery also have AF.)

Results were published in the March 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Study coauthor, Robert Michler, MD—Co-Director, Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart and Vascular Care—is a principal investigator on this prestigious NIH award. He and coauthor Joseph J. DeRose, MD, Chief, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Montefiore and surgeons at other participating centers enrolled the patients to randomly undergo surgical ablation or no ablation (control group). Ablation patients were further randomized to one of two types of ablation. All patients were assessed six and 12 months after surgery. Significantly more patients in the ablation group than in the control group were free of AF at both six and 12 months (63.2 percent vs. 29.4%). While the two types of ablation proved equally effective, patients who underwent ablation were significantly more likely than control patients to require implantation of a permanent pacemaker.

Montefiore Einstein Center for Heart and Vascular Care is committed to advancing medical care and science through research and clinical trials. Patients are given opportunities to participate in these early-stage studies and treatment efforts in order to determine if a new therapy or surgical procedure is effective.

Find out more about this innovative research.