Dr. Colin Franz Receives Development Grant for Research on Activity-Based Treatments to Accelerate Peripheral Axon Regeneration

Published May 13, 2022

Colin Franz, MD, PhD, was selected to receive a development grant from the ANF in 2021 for his research project “Activity-Based Treatments to Accelerate Peripheral Axon Regeneration.”
Dr. Franz is director of the EDX laboratory at the Shirley RyanAbilityLab hospital and a physician in the Lois Insolia ALS Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. “My research is heavily inspired by the patients I treat,” said Franz, who works to improve the treatment of patients with peripheral nerve injuries to maximize their functional recovery.
“Conservative estimates suggest 200, 000 or more peripheral nerve injuries occur every year in the United States. Outcomes are highly variable, but the vast majority are left with permanent neurological impairments including limb paralysis or severe chronic pain. There are no FDA approved treatments proven to accelerate the process of axon regeneration,” Franz explained. “We aim to address this problem by combining two promising treatments involving therapeutic electrical stimulation as well as a repurposed drug. Our prior work indicates they will have an additive benefit since these treatments appear to target distinct events that occur either earlier or later in the nerve regeneration process. To further enrich this proposal we will use advance materials to enable wireless, and biodegradable implants to deliver therapy directly to regenerating nerves.” Franz’s research will set the stage for a follow-up clinical trial to bring the most promising therapy to patients.
Franz is grateful for support from the ANF. The development grant has given him the time and resources required to establish an independent research program to address issues that matter to NM and EDX physicians. The award will not only provide new data to support Franz’ team in advancing to clinical trials, but also help his lab compete against more established researchers for federal funding to sustain these lines of investigation for years to come.
“There are not many awards available to support early career physicians or scientists in the field of NM and EDX medicine. Therefore the ANF plays an important role in championing research into the conditions affecting the patients we care for, many of which by themselves are rare or under recognized by other agencies,” said Franz. “In cooperation with the AANEM, the ANF is developing the next generation of leaders for our discipline.”
Dr. Franz’s research efforts, as part of this grant, began August 2021 through July 2023. Following completion of the research, Dr. Franz will present his findings at an AANEM Annual Meeting.