'Dancing Molecules' offer new hope for traumatic spinal cord injury recovery

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Spinal cord injury is a leading cause of paralysis in individuals in Canada. The injuries often result from car accidents, slip and fall accidents, sports mishaps, violent assault, and workplace injury. Life with paralysis (tetraplegia, quadriplegia, paraplegia) is extremely difficult. Very few individuals with a complete injury ever regain their basic functions. 

In 2010 there was approximately 1340 incidences of traumatic spinal cord injury in Canada. Most individuals who suffer these injuries never return to full employment and face a lifetime of medical care, physiotherapy, drug costs, and adaptive equipment costs. The injury is stressful not only on the individual but also on their families.

A new therapy that we posted about earlier in the week is getting a lot of promising reviews online. The study “Bioactive scaffolds with enhanced supramolecular motion promote recovery from spinal cord injury” published in Science is a result of extensive research done at Northwestern University. 

Lead researchers Dr. Samuel I. Stupp says,

“Our research aims to find a therapy that can prevent individuals from becoming paralyzed after major trauma or disease,” said Northwestern’s Samuel I. Stupp, who led the study. “For decades, this has remained a major challenge for scientists because our body’s central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, does not have any significant capacity to repair itself after injury or after the onset of a degenerative disease. We are going straight to the FDA to start the process of getting this new therapy approved for use in human patients, who currently have very few treatment options.”

The researchers explain in the paper how after a single injection of their gel into the tissues surrounding the damage site in mice there was improved outcomes. The gel triggered the cells to repair and regenerate and improved spinal cord injury outcomes by:

  • Regenerating severed axons
  • Diminishing scar tissue
  • Reforming myelin sheaths around cells
  • Functional blood vessels were formed at the injury site delivering nutrients to cells
  • More motor neurons survived

The researchers say that their gel contains ‘dancing molecules’ that trigger cascading signals in the receptors that they come into contact with. The first signal triggers axon regeneration, and the second signal helps neurons survive the injury or promotes the proliferation and regrowth of lost blood vessels.

This therapy is very promising, and we will be waiting for the human trial results.

If you or a loved one suffer a traumatic spinal cord injury in an accident you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Deutschmann Personal Injury and Disability Law today.