Clarifying the Mechanism Underlying Hyperreflexia After SCI

Curtis Benson PhD
Yale University and VA Connecticut
New Haven, CT

Spasticity is a frequent complication related to over-activity in the spinal cord reflex system after SCI. Daily life with spasticity can be extremely difficult, affecting movement and speech, and in some cases, the condition can be painful. Current treatments for spasticity are “hit-or-miss”, may have negative side effects, and long-term use can worsen outcomes. The purpose of this project is to 1) better understand of the underlying cause of spasticity, and 2) assess a novel gene therapy to alleviate the spastic condition. We hypothesize that reducing the activity of a key molecular target responsible for abnormal neuroplasticity using a gene therapy will reduce spasticity. Gene therapy is an emerging medical technology with unique advantages compared with conventional drugs, including: reduced side effects and long-lasting effectiveness. Successful project completion will greatly improve our understanding of spasticity, and provide novel opportunities for developing more effective and safe treatments for spasticity after SCI.