The U-M Neuropathy Center Opening

The Neuropathy Association has established “Neuropathy Centers” at and in affiliation with four of the nation’s most prestigious university medical centers including that of University of Michigan. The Centers are the first in what is expected to become a national network of centers affiliated with the Association. Their purpose is to 1) Encourage and organize and patient support activities 2) Educate physicians to better evaluate and treat patients 3) Partner with key health care thought leaders and 4) Raise general neuropathy awareness at a grassroots level. The University of Michigan Neuropathy Center under the direction of Dr. Eva Feldman had its opening ceremony on Wednesday, March 9, 2005. Read full press release.

Dr. Feldman named to DeJong chair

Dr. Eva Feldman was recently named the Russell N. DeJong Professor of Neurology. The appointment, for five years beginning Oct. 21, 2004, was approved by the University of Michigan Regents. The professorship was established under Dr. DeJong who served as a Chair of Neurology for 27 years at University of Michigan until his retirement in 1977. Dr. DeJong was one of the leaders of American neurology and was founding editor of the journal Neurology. It is a befitting honor to Dr. Feldman for her outstanding scientific achievements, commitment to teaching, her active University clinical practice; her leadership and service to the Medical School, the University of Michigan and professional organizations and journals. The installation ceremony, which took place on March 16, 2005 in the Ford Amphitheatre at the University of Michigan Hospital, included Mr. Taubman, President Mary Sue Coleman, and the dean of Medical school, Dr. Allen Lichter.

PFUND Researcher Receives Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award

Joseph M. Corey, MD, Ph.D., has been awarded a Mentored Clinical Scientist Development Award (K08) by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) at NIH, which began 8/1/2004. His proposal, entitled “Fibrous Templates for Directed Nerve Regeneration” is co-mentored by Eva Feldman, MD, Ph.D. in Neurology and David Martin, Ph.D., in Materials Science and Engineering. In this grant, Dr. Corey will better understand how nerve cells can grow on special artificial fibers, so that patients with cut or damaged nerves and spinal cord injury may regain function.

PFUND Completes NIH Drug Screening

Following the screening of 1,040 specially selected FDA approved drugs in our experimental model system, the data was shared with the Consortium of 26 laboratories nationwide. This project, sponsored by The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and the ALS Association, was a focused effort to fast-track new therapeutic strategies against ALS into the clinic. The data from all 26 research teams will be available to the public on the Internet in the form of a database containing all of the screening results. In addition, preliminary discussions of the data will be published in a letter to the journal Nature in the near future. In our own PFUND laboratory, the drug screen has produced exciting new insights into ALS disease. These leads form the basis for new research projects and grant proposals that are now underway in the lab.

Researcher Awarded ALS Association Grant

Following the drug screening effort for new therapies against ALS, Andrea Vincent, Ph.D., obtained a grant from the ALS Association to study the protective drug effects. The grant is for one year and is intended to examine how inflammation influences the survival of the motor neurons affected in ALS. Dr. Vincent hopes to use this one-year period to generate new theories about how ALS progresses and develop her research program in this area.

New Study shows how Diabetes Injures Nerves

In a new study soon to be published in the FASEB Journal, PNR&D scientist Gina Leinninger reports her newest results on neuronal survival in the face of high glucose. Ms. Leinninger, a current University of Michigan Graduate Student in the Neuroscience Program, has found that Insulin-like Growth Factor I (IGF-I) enhances the survival of those neurons affected in diabetic neuropathy using a specific survival pathway. Cells use this pathway to increase production of a group of factors that protect the cell from glucose-induced damage and death. This increased understanding of both how glucose kills neurons and the factors needed to protect them could lead to the identification of therapeutic targets in the future.

Researcher Outlines New Way to Study Nerve Cells

PFUND researcher Joseph M. Corey, MD, Ph.D., has recent data suggesting that engineered synthetic materials produced in a specific pattern enhance the growth, shape, and migration of neurons and their processes. During spinal cord injury, neurons are damaged or killed. In order for a patient to regain function, the neurons must grow and connect with one another in a particular pattern. Scaffolds are used to aid in proper neuronal growth and connection. Dr. Corey’s results suggest that the material used and the patterns the materials are placed in determine how the neurons will behave. These results further our understanding of how these materials can be used to control the direction a neuron will grow or move in and the connections it will make with other neurons, which will be important for patient rehabilitation after spinal cord injury.

Dr. Rubin Goes the Distance for ALS Research

Dr. RubinDr. Adam D. Rubin has seen the destructive effects of ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, both personally and professionally. So it makes sense that the 44-year-old laryngologist would blend his love of running with his desire to find a cure for this devastating disease.

That is why Dr. Rubin planned to run his first New York City Marathon on Nov. 4 to raise funds for ALS research. And while the run was canceled following Hurricane Sandy, Dr. Rubin is continuing to fundraise and will run the Anthem Richmond marathon on Nov. 10 in Virginia.

Donations will go to the Program for Neurology Research & Discovery (PNRD) at the University of Michigan Health System, a laboratory directed by Dr. Eva Feldman with which Dr. Rubin has been affiliated for years.

[Read more…]

U-M oversees cutting-edge trial that offers hope in fight against Lou Gehrig’s disease

Boulis-Perform-SurgeryALS stem cell trial is chronicled in Detroit Free Press two-part series

By Robin Erb, Free Press Medical Writer

Sometimes she glares at the painting of Jesus in her dining room.

“I just let it loose,” said Mary Kleiss at her Royal Oak home. “I look at that picture and I say, ‘You get down here and put on your boxing gloves and let’s get this over with.’ I am so damned angry.”

Her son, Regis, was diagnosed two and a half years ago with Lou Gehrig’s disease — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. It is, he writes, “as if God is torturing me.”

The disease kills with stunning efficiency — deadening its victims’ peripheral nerves, withering muscles and, in a final assault, shutting down their ability to breathe. An estimated 30,000 people have it at any given time; 5,000 are diagnosed yearly. Most die within years. There is no cure.

[Read more…]

ALS Clinical Trials

ALS

The Great Lakes ALS Consortium is conducting a clinical trial is to determine whether IGF-I (trade name MyotrophinTM) slows progression of weakness in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Three hundred patients with ALS will participate in a double blind, placebo-controlled two-year study. Half the patients will receive IGF-I and the other half will receive a placebo. The drug will be administered twice a day subcutaneously. The primary endpoint will be the rate of change in manual muscle testing score (MMT). Secondary endpoints will include tracheotomy free survival and change in ALS Functional Rating Score (ALSFRS).

Enrollment began in the summer of 2003. PFUND investigators have enrolled 24 patients as of July 2004. This clinical trial is funded by the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke (NINDS) and The ALS Association.

For more information on this study, please contact the study coordinator, Timothy Funckes RN tfunckes@umich.edu.

NOTE: CLOSED TO RECRUITMENT. The trial is still ongoing and information is available but no new patients can enroll. Please check back for updates on new studies.

Diabetic Neuropathy

In addition to directing the PFUND, Dr. Eva Feldman also directs the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Center of Excellence for the Study of Complications in Diabetes at the University of Michigan. Through this joint role, a number of PFUND Investigators also work in the Complications Center. The team is currently conducting a clinical trial of a triple antioxidant therapy in type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetic patients. The three drugs are nicotinamide (Endur-Amide TM, Innovite Inc., Tigard, OR), allopurinol (Zyloprim TM, Prometheus Laboratories, San Diego, CA), and alpha-lipoic acid (Thioctacid TM, Asta Medica, Frankfurt, Germany). Patients interested in enrolling in this trial should contact the study coordinator; Cynthia Plunkett, R.N.C. at cplunket@umich.edu or 734-936-8065.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance causing Neuropathy

Doctors at the University of Michigan as well as Utah and New Jersey are conducting a study on Impaired Glucose Tolerance and Neuropathy, (IGTN). This is sometimes known as “Pre-diabetes”. Recently, a study showed that many people with pre-diabetes or (IGTN) have a risk of unknown cause of neuropathy symptoms, increased risk for heart disease, strokes or becoming a diabetic. With a diet and exercise program this study will monitor a persons blood sugar’s for 24 mos. There will be tests of autonomic and peripheral nerves at the beginning, middle and end of the study. The participants will have a nutritionist and study personnel meet with them on a regular basis, every 3mos. to work with them on their diet and excercise. This study does not involve any medication.

For more information, or to see if you are eligible for this research trial you can contact the study coordinator Susan Nalepa, sumsn@umich.edu.

NOTE: CLOSED TO RECRUITMENT. The trial is still ongoing and information is available but no new patients can enroll. Please check back for updates on new studies.