Spinal cord injury (SCI) is an abrupt traumatic injury that leads to permanent functional loss, and no practical treatment is available. We have developed pharmaceutical recombinant human hepatocyte growth factor (KP-100), and its efficacy for SCI has been verified using animal models. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of intrathecal KP-100 administration for SCI patients in the acute phase. This investigation was a multi-center, randomized, double-blind study. Subjects with modified Frankel grade A/B1/B2 at 72 h after SCI were included. KP-100 was administered intrathecally. Subjects were followed up for 168 days after the first administration. Outcomes were evaluated using American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) scores and subjected to analysis of covariance. Our results demonstrated that the subjects did not show any serious adverse events caused by KP-100. Forty-three subjects underwent neurological function testing (26 in KP-100 group; 17 in placebo group), which revealed that KP-100 contributed to motor improvement at Days 140 (p = 0.050) and 168 (p = 0.079). In the subset of subjects with Frankel grade A, the proportions of subjects who gained at least 1 point on their lower-extremity motor scores were 33.3% (5/15) and 6.3% (1/16) in the KP-100 and placebo groups, respectively (p = 0.083). Therefore, KP-100 has the potential to be useful and beneficial for SCI patients during the acute phase. However, this was a phase I/II trial and did not definitely address the question of efficacy; a larger phase III trial would be required to assess the efficacy.
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