The North American Clinical Trials Network (NACTN) has been established as a network of translational clinical research centers focused on traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) with the goals of facilitating clinical translational research, promotion of enhanced clinical care protocols including the principle of early surgery for SCI, and improving outcomes for individuals with acute SCI. Since its foundation in 2004 by Dr. Robert Grossman, NACTN has evolved into a powerful multi-stakeholder consortium of eight neurosurgical department faculties at university-affiliated institutions in the United States and Canada, a data management center, and a pharmacological center. To date, high-quality data from more than 1000 patients have been prospectively collected, providing us with a strong body of evidence surrounding SCI epidemiology, the natural history, and complications of acute and subacute SCI management. Key accomplishments of NACTN are summarized in this Focus issue. They include the launch, in collaboration with AO Spine, of the international, multi-center, placebo-controlled, Phase III Riluzole in Acute Spinal Cord Injury Study (RISCIS) that recruited 192 patients. While the primary analyses did not achieve the predetermined endpoint of efficacy for Riluzole, likely related to insufficient power, pre-planned secondary analyses demonstrated that all subgroups of cervical SCI subjects (AIS grades A, B and C) treated with Riluzole showed significant gains in functional recovery. The Focus Issue also includes a detailed analysis of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of riluzole in the setting of acute SCI (RISCIS-PK study). Additional achievements include key contributions to the evidence supporting the role of early surgery in acute SCI, and a better understanding of the impact of complications on the outcomes of SCI. Future directions of NACTN will build on past accomplishments and focus on enhanced collaborations with other SCI networks, advanced analytics to examine large datasets, and a greater focus on chronic SCI.
- clinical trials
- North American clinical trials
- spinal cord injury