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Antibodies against Nogo-A to enhance regeneration of the injured central nervous system

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A protein known as Nogo-A blocks nerve fiber regeneration in the brain and spinal cord. Antibodies can neutralize Nogo-A and allow nerve regrowth to occur.

Project Description

Nerve fibers in the adult central nervous system (i.e., the spinal cord and brain) fail to regenerate after injury, and to date there are no therapies for enhancing their repair. Spinal cord injuries have dramatic and long-term effects on people’s lives, and the social and economic burdens of lifelong care are enormous.

For a long time, it was generally believed that damaged fiber tracts of the central nervous system were incapable of regeneration. However, there is growing evidence that specific inhibitory molecules found in myelin (the protective layer surrounding the nerve fibers) prevent nerve fiber regeneration and are the cause of poor functional recovery after injury. This explanation was first proposed by Professor Martin Schwab and his group in Zurich, who also discovered the most potent growth inhibitor that has been identified so far: the membrane protein Nogo-A. Moreover, Schwab and his team have demonstrated that antibodies blocking the function of Nogo-A lead to long-distance regeneration of injured nerve fibers in the spinal cord of monkeys and rats, and greatly improve the animals’ functional recovery.

Based on these promising preclinical results, a Phase I (first-in-man) clinical trial in patients with spinal cord injury was conducted that demonstrated the excellent safety and tolerability of a human anti-Nogo-A antibody. With the support of Wyss Zurich’s Regenerative Medicine Technologies Platform, the team will now produce a new batch of this therapeutic anti-Nogo-A antibody. The antibody will allow for the critical transition to Phase II clinical trials, which are intended to demonstrate the clinical efficacy of the anti-Nogo-A antibody in patients with spinal cord injuries.
Beyond the field of spinal cord injury, these clinical studies will serve as a model for other conditions in which the nerve fibers of the central nervous system have been injured, and may therefore have a substantial impact on the treatment of neurological diseases in general. A positive outcome of the planned clinical trials would constitute a major breakthrough in the fields of neurology, neuroscience, and tissue regeneration and repair.


Bettina Steiner
Project Leader

Bettina steiner portrait

Faculty Mentor

Martin Schwab

Portrait Ce Ne Reg mentor schwab 560

Partners and Funding

  • Co-funded by the EU Horizon 2020
  • European Research Council
  • Swiss National Science Foundation
  • Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation


Start Clinical Phase II

Swiss clinical sites are ready to enroll first patients in the Phase II clinical study.

Completed Series A Funding

NovaGo Therapeutics closes a Series A financing round of CHF 10 million.

Wyss Zurich Admission

CeNeReg is accepted as a full project.

NovaGo Therapeutics AG incorporation

Incorporation of the biotech company NovaGo Therapeutics AG.

Core Team

Bettina steiner portrait

Bettina Steiner

Project Leader

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