Thank you for joining Dignify Therapeutics’ journey to restore voluntary control of bodily functions to individuals who have spinal cord damage. I assume you are aware of how spinal cord damage from an accident, or from a disease such as multiple sclerosis, can result in the loss of voluntary control over bladder and bowel function. (If not, please download our white paper.) The current procedures for voiding urine and feces require arduous and unpleasant daily routines that often require a caregiver’s assistance and are associated with medical complications.
Way back in 1977, when I started my PhD training in pharmacology, I was highly interested in how spinal cord functions were impacted, when control from the brain is lost. Loss of voluntary control of the arms and legs is obviously important, but I was drawn to loss of voluntary control of bladder and bowel because I felt that a clinically practical solution could be achieved in my lifetime. Furthermore, bladder and bowel dysfunction present a much higher degree of clinically significant morbidity and mortality compared to the inability to walk. Thus many of my first publications were aimed at restoring bladder and bowel function.
Unfortunately, my 25 year career in the pharmaceutical industry did not allow me to study bladder and bowel function in spinal cord injured individuals because the population (about 250,000 in the US) was not large enough compared to other unmet medical needs such as urinary incontinence and “overactive bladder” (about 20,000,000 in the US) to warrant industry interest.
Now however, novel drugs and novel drug delivery techniques that provide a practical clinical development path have emerged. In response to this opportunity, I have assembled a highly accomplished team of professionals that are uniquely positioned to develop compounds that not only restore voluntary control of bladder and bowel function and improve individuals’ quality of life, but also reduce overall medical costs associated with spinal cord injury. Because of the high costs to society, as well as the prevalence of spinal cord injuries among our wounded military men and women, Dignify anticipates that the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense will join us in this journey and provide substantial resources.
I feel blessed to be in a position where I can focus the last chapter of my career on helping spinal cord injured individuals. While the path forward is likely to contain unforeseen obstacles, at the moment I see no obstacles that cannot be overcome.
Please continue on this journey with us by learning more about the condition and by sharing any personal stories you may have regarding the impact of spinal cord injury on your life or that of someone you know. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments.
Thank you so much!
Karl B. Thor, PhD
President, Dignify Therapeutics LLC