Technophage S.A., in collaboration with a team led by Leonor Saúde, Principal Investigator of the Instituto de Medicina Molecular João Lobo Antunes (iMM), developed a simple, fast and efficient zebrafish screening platform to discover and select new therapeutics for spinal cord injuries. This study that was published today in the Scientific Reports journal is a proof-of-concept of a transected spinal cord zebrafish larval model for the search of new therapeutics for spinal cord injury that combined with drug repurposing, promises to accelerate the time period from drug discovery to clinical use.

Spinal cord injury is a complex medical condition, with limited therapeutic options, that results in sensory and motor disabilities. Given the complex nature of this condition, it is likely that only multiple-target therapies will achieve significant functional recovery, and, therefore, valuable therapeutic results.

In this study we developed a zebrafish drug screening platform that allowed to screen more than 100 small molecules from an FDA-approved chemical compounds library using 5 days post fertilization zebrafish larvae with complete transected spinal cords. We validated our screening platform showing that three molecules (riluzole, minocycline and D-cycloserine) that were tested in clinical trials for spinal cord injury promote rescue of the locomotor function of the transected larvae.
Ultimately, these promising results combined with drug repurposing, promise to propel the rapid translation of novel therapeutics to improve spinal cord injury recovery in humans.