Richard Fessler, MD, on Progress With Cell Therapy in Spinal Cord Injury


The professor of neurosurgery at Rush University Medical School discussed the potential of Lineage Cell’s LCTOPC1 cell therapy.

“Right now, we have more hope of being able to successfully treat spinal cord injury than we've had since the first definition of spinal cord injury, which was 5000 years ago. It's a very exciting time... Although our next trial has not yet begun, we want everyone who sees spinal cord injury patients to be aware of the trial and get the patients transferred to one of the participating institutions so that they can be a part of the trial.”

LCTOPC1, Lineage Cell Therapeutics’ oligodendrocyte progenitor cell therapy, has been well-tolerated in patients with subacute cervical spinal cord injuries. A phase 1/2 trial (NCT02302157) has demonstrated promising safety and neurological data that indicate further investigation of the therapy.

The trial has dosed 25 patients. All patients experienced at least 1 adverse event (AE) for a total of 534 adverse events. A single case of self-resolving grade 2 dysesthesia was deemed to be potentially related to the LTCOPC1 cells and none of the 29 serious AEs reported were deemed related to the cell therapy.

At 1-year follow-up, 21/22 (96%) of the intention-to-treat group recovered 1 or more levels of neurological function on at least 1 side of their body, and 7/22 (32%) recovered 2 or more levels of neurological function on at least 1 side of their body.

CGTLive spoke with the study’s principal investigator Richard Fessler, MD, professor of neurosurgery, Rush University Medical School, to learn more next steps with LTCOPC1, including optimizing the therapy and entering discussions with the FDA. He also touched on future research with cell therapy and spinal cord injury.

Fessler RG, Ehsanian R, Liu CY, et al. A phase 1/2a dose-escalation study of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in individuals with subacute cervical spinal cord injury. J. Neurosurg. Spine. Published online July 8, 2022. Accessed July 19, 2022. doi: 10.3171/2022.5.SPINE22167
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