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Block That Nogo: Schwab Lab Identifies Barriers to Regeneration

Martin E. Schwab, Ph.D.
Martin E. Schwab, Ph.D., is a member of the Reeve Foundation International Research Consortium on Spinal Cord Injury.

The Martin Schwab lab in Zurich pioneered the notion that repair of spinal cord nerves is blocked by a molecule found in the lining (myelin) of axons. His lab identified the inhibitory molecule (called Nogo) then went one better ­-- they also found a way to neutralize it (with an antibody called anti-Nogo). This has resulted in several experimental treatment strategies aimed at enhancing the limited recovery from spinal cord or brain injuries. Several experimental anti-Nogo treatments have shown beneficial effects in animal models of spinal cord injury.

Schwab's recent publications report that blocking Nogo results in significant functional recovery of locomotion or skilled forelimb reaching after spinal cord or stroke in rats and monkeys. Novartis completed a Phase 1 human safety trial for anti-Nogo last year; results have not been published. His group continues to study the optimal time window for successful anti-Nogo treatments; in rodents, spinal cord nerve fibers regenerated over several millimeters after acute or one-week-delayed treatments, but not as well when the antibody treatment was started with a delay of two weeks.

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders