NEWS | October 3, 2016

UC Davis surgeons enroll the first patient in an acute spinal cord injury study


Neurosurgeons at UC Davis Health System have enrolled the first patient in a study that will determine if a new investigational treatment can safely and effectively improve motor function following acute traumatic cervical spinal cord injury.

Neurosurgeon Kee Kim is leading a study of an investigational treatment for spinal cord injury. Neurosurgeon Kee Kim is leading a study of an investigational treatment for spinal cord injury.

The treatment, a compound known as VX-210 being developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, could potentially block a molecule that plays a major role in preventing nerve regeneration.

More than a quarter of a million Americans live with spinal cord injuries, which generally result in sensory and motor paralysis. The costs of caring for these patients can reach $3 billion per year, in addition to significant physical, psychological and social costs.

“Spinal cord injuries are devastating, yet there aren’t many therapeutic options for patients,” said Kee Kim, study principal investigator, professor of neurological surgery and co-director of the spine center at UC Davis. “We are anxious to find out if this treatment can lead to functional improvements for patients who otherwise have little hope for change.”

The first patient was treated by Ripul Panchal, assistant professor of neurological surgery. The study will eventually include about 150 patients at 35 sites in North America.

Participants must be between 14 and 75 years of age and scheduled to undergo a spinal decompression/stabilization surgery within 72 hours following the initial injury. They will be randomized into three groups: two will receive the compound at two different doses and another will receive a placebo to the site of their injuries during surgery. At least four follow-up evaluations within 12 months after the surgical procedure are required for all participants.

For additional information and enrollment criteria for the VX-210 study at UC Davis, contact Nancy Rudisill at 916-734-3660 or or visit

The UC Davis Spine Center is an interdisciplinary program designed to help patients of all ages and stages of spinal disorders return to their optimal level of functioning. Consultation and treatment services include neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, pain diagnostics and management, and physical therapy. For information, visit