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Research has found that blood pressure can be controlled without drugs after a spinal cord injury

Researchers at the University of Calgary and the Swiss expect the results to lead to international clinical trials

Dr. Richie Gill is back at work so that he can enjoy time with his family in the evening and get a good night’s sleep thanks to research. Three years ago, Jill broke his neck in a dance-board accident while on vacation with his young family. Gill says getting back in motion with a wheelchair is the first thing most people notice. However, for those with a spinal cord injury (SCI), what happens inside the body also severely impacts their quality of life.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that a spinal cord injury prevents some systems within the body from regulating automatically,” says the 41-year-old. “My blood pressure will drop dramatically, leaving me exhausted, dizzy and unable to concentrate. The condition can be life threatening and require life-long treatment.”

Dr Aaron Phillips, Ph.D., at the University of Calgary School of Medicine (CSM) and Gregoire Curtin, Ph.D., at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), co-led an international study that showed that spinal cord stimulators can connect the body’s self-regulatory system, control blood pressure Without medication. The results have been published in nature.

For people with SCI, the discovery is life-changing. “The spinal cord acts as a line of communication that allows the brain to send signals to tell the body like when and how to move, as well as how to control vital functions, including blood pressure,” says Phillips, a researcher. Associate Principal and Associate Professor at CSM. This line of communication was cut off after a spinal cord injury. We created the first platform to understand the mechanisms underlying blood pressure instability after spinal cord injury, which allowed us to develop a new, cutting-edge solution. ”

Gill is the first participant in the study in a series of clinical trials planned in Calgary and Switzerland. “We will collaborate with a company called Onward to develop a customized neurostimulation system to manage blood pressure in people with SCI,” says Curtin, co-principal investigator and professor at EPFL.

In the study, epidural electrical stimulation (EES) of the spinal cord was used to stabilize hemodynamics (blood flow throughout the body) allowing vital organs to maintain proper blood supply. The researchers discovered the exact position on the backbone of their stimulus, and the circuit of the sympathetic nervous system underlying blood pressure control. This new knowledge allowed the development of a closed-loop neural communication system, to replace lost circulatory control.

“We are really excited that people with a SCI are able to stop their blood pressure treatment and go back to enjoying a complete daily routine while improving blood flow to the brain and organs,” says Dr. Sean Dokilo, MD, PhD and MD. studying. “People feel more alert, they can be upright and in their wheelchair without losing consciousness, and in the long term we think this will reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.”

“It’s exciting to see science helping to move things forward,” says Gill. “I’m excited that Calgary is going to be one of the sites for clinical trials. The research has had a positive impact on my life and I’m glad others will also benefit.”

Jill continues to work as part of the Calgary Adult Bariatric Surgery Clinic and is now director of the Alberta Obesity Center.

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Media contact
Kelly Johnston
Kelly Goh[email protected]http: // dx.Resonate.Deer /10.1038 /s41586-020-03180-w

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