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US defence body backs SCI research

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DARPA – the research and development agency of the US Department of Defense – is putting its weight behind spinal cord injury (SCI) research.

The organisation has awarded a consortium of universities, biomedical startups, and nonprofit organizations an award that supports the development of interventions for SCI.

Karen Moxon, from University of California, Davis (UC Davis), will lead the five-year project supported by the $36 million award, according to reports.

The consortium will focus on three primary technologies, including a near-infrared spectroscopic sensor.

Brian Kwon, co-principal investigator and spine surgeon from the University of British Columbia (UBC), will develop the sensor. Pathonix Innovations Inc., also in Vancouver, Canada, will then commercialize the device to assess blood oxygenation and blood flow at the site of spinal injury.

The additional technologies include an implantable mean arterial pressure sensor and a spinal cord stimulation and blood pressure regulation system.

The international team comes from 12 institutions: UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UBC, the University of Calgary, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland), Pathonix, GTX Medical (Lausanne, Switzerland), Teliatry (Richardson, Texas), the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering (Geneva, Switzerland), Battelle Memorial Institute (Columbus, Ohio), and NetValue BioConsulting Inc. (Toronto).

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