SOURCE: Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation

April 28, 2008 14:10 ET

The Quest for a Cure: Paving the Way in Paraplegic Research

World's Leading Spinal Cord Scientists Meet in Salzburg, Austria

SANTA MONICA, CA--(Marketwire - April 28, 2008) - The foremost spinal cord injury researchers from the U.S. and around the globe will meet in Salzburg's Hangar 7 this April 28-May 2 for a scientific symposium hosted by Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation. Twenty-six of the world's most renowned neuroscientists, including 13 U.S. scholars, will be discussing such topics as an injured spinal cord's ability to regenerate and the potential treatments for paraplegia.

Symposium presenters include Stephen Strittmatter of Yale University School of Medicine speaking on "The Nogo Receptor Pathway Regulating Axonal Growth after Spinal Cord Injury" and a talk entitled "Microglia in CNS Inflammation" by David Hafler of Harvard Medical School. Amongst cross-continental contributors is Vienna-based neuroscientist Friedrich Propst who has examined a possible therapeutic approach with molecules which are released during a spinal cord injury within the nerve fibre itself that then inhibit the nerves from reconnecting. Propst, along with handful of presenters each day, will provide the basis for an ongoing dialogue amongst their professional peers.

SCIENTIFIC STRIDES

Neurologist Vieri Failli, Scientific Vice President of Wings for Life and symposium presenter, has said, "The question is no longer if paraplegia will be curable one day but rather when." One very promising approach to finding a cure can be found in the work of Swiss neuroscientist Martin Schwab. Twenty years ago Schwab disproved the prevailing dogma that cut fibres in the central nervous system could never reconnect: with the aid of a special antibody therapy, he succeeded in restoring paralyzed rats' ability to walk. This treatment approach, supplemented by additional therapeutic measures, is currently being explored in the first clinical trial involving newly injured people. Schwab and German neuroscientist Jan Schwab of Charité Berlin, who has explored the necessary therapeutic supplements, will provide information on this and also on other clinical trials as well as on current scientific thought in spinal cord research.

BACKING THE CAUSE

Applying a very stringent scientific selection process, Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation has been a major supporter of the work of these prominent scientists, contributing over $100,000 to Propst's studies alone. The foundation is a philanthropic organization co-founded by two-time motocross World Champion Heinz Kinigadner and Red Bull Energy Drink® founder Dietrich Mateschitz. The foundation's goals are four-fold: (1) fund cutting-edge scientific research aimed to heal spinal cord injury; (2) improve scientific communication in this specific field of research; (3) develop concrete, clinical intervention strategies; and (4) prevent spinal cord injuries from ever happening.

Important dates:

--  Symposium on "Functional Recovery Following Spinal Cord Injury"
    April 28 - May 2, 2008, Hangar 7, Salzburg, Austria

--  Round Table with Martin Schwab and Jan Schwab
    April 30, 2008, Hangar 7, Salzburg, Austria:

--  Presentation on the findings of Friedrich Propst
    May 2, 2008, Hangar 7, Salzburg, Austria

To learn more about the scientific symposium, Wings for Life or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.wingsforlife.com. For all media inquiries, please contact Ellie Applen at ellen.applen@us.redbull.com (310) 460-4532.

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