Myelopathy.org is delighted to announce the winner of its inaugural Research Award for best piece of research aligned with a RECODE-DCM Top 10 Research Priority:
Dr Michael G Fehlings from Toronto, Canada for his paper,
The influence of ApoE4 on the clinical outcomes and
pathophysiology of degenerative cervical myelopathy
by Alexa Desimone, James Hong, Sydney T Brockie, Wenru Yu, Alex M Laliberte and Michael G Fehlings
This work aligns with Priority 5: Biological Basis of DCM.
The RECODE-DCM Executive Team conceived this annual Research Award in order to stimulate high-quality research focusing on the questions that matter most to people with degenerative cervical myelopathy (DCM).
In its first year, the contest attracted high-quality competitors from as far afield as India, China, USA and Portugal. Submissions were received in all categories except 2: Natural History and 9: Imaging and Electrophysiology. The most popular categories were 1: Raising Awareness and 7: Novel Therapies.
The entries were evaluated anonymously by a panel of judges comprising people with DCM, Myelopathy.org trustees, and representatives from the RECODE-DCM Steering Committee, to whom we are most grateful.
Dr Fehlings said, “It is an honour to have our translational research into the biological basis of DCM recognized by Myelopathy.org.”
“I would like to thank my wonderful research team in Toronto who contributed to this work and would also like to recognize Myelopathy.org for their advocacy efforts. DCM is the commonest cause of spinal cord impairment in adults worldwide. Despite this, there is a surprising lack of knowledge related to the underlying mechanisms of neural degeneration. ApoE4 has been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and post-traumatic cognitive decline after mild traumatic brain injury. Hence, we hypothesized that ApoE4 might be linked to increased neural degeneration in DCM. We were able to confirm this in a mouse model in which a humanized form of ApoE4 was ‘knocked in’ and in human subjects. Humans who are ApoE4 positive (as opposed to the more common variant of ApoE3) are at higher risk to develop significant neurological decline with DCM.“
“We hope that this work will lead to therapeutic targets that can have translational therapeutic implications for individuals with DCM.”
Dr Fehlings urges more researchers to come on board: “DCM is increasingly recognized as an important, treatable cause of spinal cord impairment, which requires greater understanding from many perspectives including basic pathobiology, genetics, imaging, nonoperative treatment approaches and novel surgical techniques. This is an area of great opportunity for emerging researchers to make a real impact.”
Since its inception in 2019, the RECODE-DCM initiative has challenged the global DCM community to synergise their efforts into solving 10 critical questions. It is truly uplifting to know that the community is now answering that call.
We thank all of the participants most sincerely for entering the competition, and we ask them to keep up the good work! Together, our research will reduce the global burden of DCM. Myelopathy.org calls upon the engagement of the public, individuals with lived experience, health professionals, scientists, healthcare funders and advocates and public officials to raise awareness of this important condition.
Our congratulations and gratitude go to Dr Fehlings for his trailblazing research into DCM.
For more, read our interview with Dr Fehlings and listen to the Myelopathy Matters podcast series, available on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, or Spotify . Watch this space to learn more about his work.
The call for papers for the 2023 Myelopathy.org Research Award opens on 31 March 2023. Could you be our next winner?