There is now hope to cure paralysis caused by spinal cord injury

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Traumatic spinal cord damage from car accidents or sports mishaps is a leading cause of paralysis in Canada. Spinal Cord Injury Ontario approximately 1700 people join the ranks of the 36,000 Ontarians who live with SCI (spinal cord injury). About half of the people with SCI are quadriplegic and half are paraplegic. Currently, there is no effective treatment for SCI.

The personal and societal costs of SCI are enormous. Paralysis decreases the quality of life and reduces opportunities, and the vast majority of SCI (80%) occurs in those under the age of 30. Individuals often require intensive lifelong support which is only partly funded by public healthcare programmes leaving enormous burdens on family, friends and patients.

Finding a way to reverse the damage done to the nerves of the spine would be a major step toward reversing paralysis and improving the lives of some people. Researchers from the Imperial College of London have been able to simulate axion fibre regeneration in mice three months post devastating spinal injury.

The researchers found that weekly epigenetic injections in mice has supported spinal cord regeneration after severe injury.

The treatment remains a long way from human trials but is promising. From the researchers:

Treatment began 12 weeks after severe spinal cord injury and lasted for 10 weeks. Researchers found several improvements after TTK21 treatment compared with control treatment. The most noticeable effect was more axon sprouting in the spinal cord. They also found that retraction of motor axons above the point of injury halted, and that sensory axon growth increased. These changes were likely due to the observed increase in gene expression related to regeneration. 

While the approach remains a long way from being trialled in human patients, the researchers say their early findings are encouraging. The next step will be to further enhance these effects and trigger the regenerating axons to reconnect to the rest of the nervous system so that animals can regain their ability to move with ease. 

Professor Di Giovanni commented: “This work shows that a drug called TTK21, when administered systemically once/week after a chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) in animals, can promote neuronal regrowth and an increase in synapses that are needed for neuronal transmission.

“This is important because chronic spinal cord injury is a condition without a cure where neuronal regrowth and repair fail. We are now exploring the combination of this drug with strategies that bridge the spinal cord gap such as biomaterials as possible avenues to improve disability in SCI patients.”

If you or a family member has sustained a spinal cord injury in an accident you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer today. At Deutschmann Personal Injury and Disability Law we specialize in spinal cord injury. Call us, or fill out the online contact form today. You don't have to face your situation alone. 1.866.414.4878