A study of probable benefit of a bioresorbable polymer scaffold for safety and neurological recovery in patients with complete thoracic spinal cord injury: 6-month results from the INSPIRE study

J Neurosurg Spine. 2021 Feb 5;1-10. doi: 10.3171/2020.8.SPINE191507. Online ahead of print.


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the investigational Neuro-Spinal Scaffold (NSS), a highly porous bioresorbable polymer device, demonstrates probable benefit for safety and neurological recovery in patients with complete (AIS grade A) T2-12 spinal cord injury (SCI) when implanted ≤ 96 hours postinjury.

Methods: This was a prospective, open-label, multicenter, single-arm study in patients with a visible contusion on MRI. The NSS was implanted into the epicenter of the postirrigation intramedullary spinal cord contusion cavity with the intention of providing structural support to the injured spinal cord parenchyma. The primary efficacy endpoint was the proportion of patients who had an improvement of ≥ 1 AIS grade (i.e., conversion from complete paraplegia to incomplete paraplegia) at the 6-month follow-up visit. A preset objective performance criterion established for the study was defined as an AIS grade conversion rate of ≥ 25%. Secondary endpoints included change in neurological level of injury (NLI). This analysis reports on data through 6-month follow-up assessments.

Results: Nineteen patients underwent NSS implantation. There were 3 early withdrawals due to death, which were all determined by investigators to be unrelated to the NSS or the implantation procedure. Seven of 16 patients (43.8%) who completed the 6-month follow-up visit had conversion of neurological status (AIS grade A to grade B [n = 5] or C [n = 2]). Five patients showed improvement in NLI of 1 to 2 levels compared with preimplantation assessment, 3 patients showed no change, and 8 patients showed deterioration of 1 to 4 levels. There were no unanticipated or serious adverse device effects or serious adverse events related to the NSS or the implantation procedure as determined by investigators.

Conclusions: In this first-in-human study, implantation of the NSS within the spinal cord appeared to be safe in the setting of surgical decompression and stabilization for complete (AIS grade A) thoracic SCI. It was associated with a 6-month AIS grade conversion rate that exceeded historical controls. The INSPIRE study data demonstrate that the potential benefits of the NSS outweigh the risks in this patient population and support further clinical investigation in a randomized controlled trial.Clinical trial registration no.: NCT02138110 (clinicaltrials.gov).

Keywords: AIS A; ASIA Impairment Scale grade A; Neuro-Spinal Scaffold implant; biopolymer; spinal cord injury; thoracic.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02138110