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Injectable Hydrogel Delivering Therapeutic Levels of Minocycline to Reduce the Secondary Injury Process of Spinal Cord Injuries

Project Team

Yinghui Zhong, PhD, Assistant Professor at the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science & Health System at Drexel University.

Ravi Ponnappan, MD, Associate Professor from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Drexel University College of Medicine.


Patients with SCI suffer lifelong disability and require continuous physical and medical care. Approximately 276,000 people in the U.S. live with SCI, with over 12,500 new cases every year. Currently, there is no effective therapy for SCI. Following SCI, the lesion expands greatly over time due to a wave of secondary injury processes. Minocycline (MH) is a clinically available drug that has been shown to target almost all secondary injury mechanisms after SCI. However, it is only neuroprotective at high concentrations. The inability to translate the high doses of MH used in experimental animals to tolerable doses in human patients limits its clinical efficacy. We have developed novel polysaccharide-MH particles that can be embedded in injectable agarose hydrogel. The hydrogel can be injected into the intrathecal space between the dura and spinal cord for non-invasive local delivery of high concentrations of MH. Methylprednisolone is the only FDA approved drug for SCI. However, its effectiveness is highly controversial due to a lack of conclusive evidence regarding efficacy. We expect that administration of the MH-releasing hydrogel 24 hours after SCI will demonstrate strong functional benefits and greater efficacy than methylprednisolone therapy. Our technology may also be used to treat stroke.