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Minocycline: A Common Drug for an Uncommon Problem

In the absence of the elusive cure for SCI, a huge, worldwide research effort to find a treatment for SCI has been underway for decades. The stakes are high: if some kind of drug or procedure could be found that would save nerve cells from additional damage after SCI and result in an even a minor level of improved function, huge differences would be made in the quality of life of thousands of people each year.

Co-leaders Dr. John Hurlbert, Associate Professor, and Dr. Steve Casha, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Surgery at the University of Calgary, have assessed minocycline — a common antibiotic often used in the treatment of acne — for its effectiveness in human patients.  This study holds the potential to confirm a role for minocycline as a neuroprotective drug intervention for acute SCI.


New drug development typically requires billions of dollars over 17-20 years but since minocycline has already been commonly used for over 30 years, it can be translated into clinical practice in a fraction of the time and cost.
at is no longer owned by any pharmaceutical company.  That means there are no profits to be made, nor funding to fully explore its benefit as a treatment for SCI.

Results indicated positive impacts to both long-term physical motor recovery and sensory scores. This study holds the potential to confirm a role for minocycline as a neuroprotective drug intervention for patients with incomplete SCI. If administered within 12 hours of sustaining an injury, minocycline has the possibility of reducing the severity of SCI and therefore, reducing the length of hospital stays, incidence and severity of secondary complications, hospital readmissions, and the need for home care support services.  It can add up to substantially-reduced costs to the health care system.

RHI will be sponsoring a multi-centre Canadian trial involving six research sites across Canada. Using the Global Research Platform for data collection, the participation of multiple hospitals, researchers, clinicians, and study participants across Canada is invaluable in maximizing the speed at which advances can be made.



Drs Steve Casha (left) and John Hurlbert

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