03139: Riluzole as a Neuroprotectant in Canine Degenerative Myelopathy

Grant Status: Open

Grant Amount: $205,317
Joan Coates, DVM, MS; University of Missouri
March 1, 2023 - February 28, 2025

Sponsor(s): American Bloodhound Club, American Chesapeake Club, Inc., Bubba's Buddies, Irish Setter Club of America Foundation, Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America, The Finding a Cure for DM Foundation, Inc.

Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: Neurology
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One Health: Yes


Degenerative myelopathy (DM) is an adult-onset spinal cord disease in dogs that causes progressive weakness and paralysis of the hind limbs and eventually all limbs. We now understand that DM is similar to some forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease) in humans. To date, there is no treatment to slow the clinical progression of DM.  A hallmark of the disease is loss of a transporter that takes up glutamate in central nervous system tissues.  Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that serves as a chemical messenger between nerve cells.  Excess levels of glutamate will cause neuron death.  The focus of this study is the evaluation of a drug, riluzole, that will counteract the buildup of glutamate.  This FDA approved drug has been shown to extend survival in ALS patients.  The long-term goal is to establish effective clinical strategies for treatment of canine DM through the efficient conduct of veterinary clinical trials.  Toward this goal, the research team has recently worked to establish a collaborative network of canine DM researchers (Project DM), designed and implemented a longitudinal DM patient registry to enhance data collection and observational studies, and built a platform trial design, which can serve to evaluate novel therapies and disease measures in a standardized way across multiple institutions.  Investigators hypothesize that riluzole, at an optimized dose, will delay disease progression, as evidenced by alteration of both disease-associated biomarkers and clinical outcome measures, therefore improving overall longevity and quality of life in dogs with DM.  This hypothesis will be tested through the following aims:  1) evaluate oral riluzole safety and establish a candidate dose; 2) conduct a clinical trial for therapeutic efficacy; and 3) demonstrate that neurofilament light, a structural protein found in neurons, is a valuable biological marker to assess the clinical progression of DM in dogs. 

To participate in this study, learn more here


None at this time.

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