InVivo Therapeutics may not have any FDA approvals yet, but the company is already changing lives with their Neuro-Spinal Scaffold (NSS) treatment.
Reversing a Life Sentence
Just hours after Jordan Fallis was in a life-altering dirt bike accident, he was the first patient to be implanted with an experimental Neuro-Spinal Scaffold, a bioresorbable scaffold designed to provide structural support for the damaged spinal tissue and help facilitate repair. In the simplest of terms, think of the Neuro-Spinal Scaffold as a “cellular bandage”, similar to a butterfly suture but for healing internal wounds.
Little did Jordan know that just 9 months after his devastating accident, he would be walking with the support of braces.
“Spinal cord injury frequently strikes very young and healthy adults. It’s a life sentence. We’re changing that. We’re turning the world upside down in this space.” – Mark Perrin, InVivo Therapeutics CEO
An Unmet Need
InVivo Therapeutics’ role as a disruptive innovator has the potential to address a huge unmet clinical need. There are 12,000 new cases of spinal cord injuries (SCI) a year and 273,000 currently living with a spinal cord injury. InVivo hopes to accomplish three unique goals for patients who receive the NSS treatment:
- Recover motor skills including muscle control, movement, and strength.
- Decrease neuropathic pain and help avoid bed sores.
- Recover autonomic functions including bowel/bladder control and sexual function.
All About the Patient
“Sure, I’d like to walk someday, too. But just give me sexual function and bowel and bladder control — I’m a happy camper.”
– Patient with paraplegia1
This quote came directly from InVivo’s website. The company is dedicated to listening to the patient voice and places a high value on the needs of the patient. In a survey completed by paraplegic patients, bladder control and sexual function were seen as higher priorities than regaining the ability to walk. InVivo recognizes this little known plight that patients face and they take it very seriously.
Chief Medical Officer Lorianne Masuoka says they have taken a patient-centered approach throughout the clinical trials and emphasize improving patients’ quality of life:
“We care more about what the patient is experiencing – even if we don’t get [FDA] credit for it.”
“The sun rises in the east and social media exists.” – Mark Perrin
Social media has certainly played an interesting role in the InVivo story. Jordan Fallis (Patient One in the NSS trial) and Jesi Stracham (Patient Two in the NSS trial) connected via social media, fell in love, and took the media by storm.
Mark Perrin and the InVivo team have embraced the social media movement. It has brought the promising numbers of the clinical trial to life and has allowed their team an additional outlet to understand the patient perspective. Mark shared that through reading the social media posts of patients, he discovered that wrinkled bed sheets were a major issue for paraplegic individuals as they contributed to the formation of bed sores. Unless you’re living it, this isn’t something anyone would think twice about. Social media is illuminating the daily struggles that patients endure and InVivo is listening.
Not only has the NSS treatment worked wonders for Jordan, but for the other patients in the trial as well.
As of July, Jesi Stracham (Patient Two) has seen significant improvement in sensory function. She has regained partial sensation from the lower ribs to the hip on the right and continues to make progress.
One-month post-surgery, Patient Three converted from a complete AIS A spinal cord injury to an incomplete AIS B spinal cord injury – an improvement that less than 4% of patients ever achieve with such a severe case.
On the Horizon
InVivo is excited about the road ahead. The company recently achieved a major milestone when the fifth and final patient was enrolled in the pilot trial. They have already requested an expansion of the trial and hope to see a quick turnaround so that they can continue working to reverse the life sentence of SCI patients.
InVivo is not stopping there. The company has a treatment for chronic SCI in the pipeline that combines biomaterial with neural stem cells designed to help promote the generation of new neural circuitry.
InVivo also has plans to ramp up their involvement with patient advocacy organizations and are enthusiastic about exploring the additional ways they can make an impact on patient lives.
Learn more about InVivo by visiting their website at www.invivotherapeutics.com.