Topical Application of Hydrogel for the Treatment of Acute Spinal Cord Injury

Market Overview:

This hydrogel can be used for the non-invasive treatment of acute spinal cord injuries by applying topically to the injury site. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 450,000 people in the United States are currently living with a spinal cord injury and 12,000 new cases develop each year. The cost of rehabilitation and on-going care can average in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, per patient. Unfortunately, there is often no cure for this type of injury; instead, doctors rely on hypothermia and steroid treatments to mitigate the injury and limit the extent of the damage. Therefore, new treatments and materials are needed to manage inflammation and enable regeneration and development of functional spinal cord tissue. Researchers at Clemson University, along with functional neurosurgeon Vibhor Krishna, have developed a hydrogel formulation that can be applied to the surface of a spinal cord injury site, providing patients with a non-invasive treatment option. The biodegradable hydrogel possesses the ability to diffuse into the injured tissue and works to protect the injury site from further damage while also providing cues for neural cell regeneration and functional tissue development.

Application                                                     Stage of Development

Spinal cord injury treatment                            Small animal studies completed



• Diffuses into tissue, protecting and regenerating damaged neural cells

• Can be applied topically to the injury site, preventing need for invasive surgery and lowering costs for patients


Technical Summary

Clemson University researchers and clinical collaborators have developed a chitosan/gelatin based hydrogel system which may be used for the treatment of acute spinal cord injury without the need of injection into the spinal cord lesion site. The hydrogel can be directly applied on the surface of the patient’s injured spinal cord. To date, small animal studies indicate ability for the hydrogel treatment to regenerate functional nerve tissue at the injury site. More new neural fibers were observed in topical gel treatment than untreated control and more myelination was found for the topical treatment group. Further, significant recovery demonstrated in locomotor function was observed.


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Inventors:                        Vibhor Krishna, Xing Jin, Xuejen Wen

Patent Type:                    Continuation in-part; Utility

Patent Number:               8,680,182; 8,481,067

CURF Reference:            2011-072

Patent Information:
Biomedical Sciences
For Information, Contact:
Chris Gesswein
Director of Licensing
Clemson University Research Foundation
Xing Jin
Vibhor Krishna
Xuejun Wen
Ning Zhang
Biomaterials - Neurology
Drugs/Pharma - Drug Delivery
Molecular Therapies
Regenerative Medicine
Tissue Engineering
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