Experimental drug offers hope to victims of spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries are among some of the most catastrophic injuries that there are. Any damage to the spinal cord, which is the body's neurologic connection to the brain, can affect the urinary, respirator, gastrointestinal and muscular systems. In addition to the body, spinal cord injuries can significantly affect the pocketbook. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average annual cost to treat a spinal cord injury is $30,000.

According to the CDC, the majority of spinal cord injuries are caused by car accidents. In addition, sports injuries, falls and injuries caused by violent acts are major causes.

Possible breakthrough in treatment

A new drug developed by researchers at The Ohio State University shows promise to those who are unfortunate victims of spinal cord injuries. The drug, known as LM11A-31, is still in the experimental stage. When there is an injury to the spinal cord, the body releases a protein that destroys certain nerve cells called oligodendrocytes that protect the axions-nerve cells that transmit motor impulses from the brain to the body. The new drug works by blocking the release of the protein.

Researchers used mice with debilitating spinal cord injuries that are similar to ones suffered by humans. They gave groups of the mice three different dosages of the drug within four hours after injury and continued to administer the drug for 42 days. After the treatment was completed, the group of mice that received the highest dosage was able to walk and move their limbs in a coordinated fashion.

Additionally, it was found that the drug was able to get past the blood-brain barrier, which protects the brain from foreign substances in the bloodstream. This discovery explained why the drug is especially effective at preventing the oligodendrocytes from dying off after the injury.

Researchers are currently testing whether the drug remains effective if administered days or months after the injury, rather than the four-hour period used in the experiments. This would make it significantly more advantageous than the current treatment for spinal cord injuries, an anti-inflammatory that must be given within 24 hours of the injury to be effective.

Consult an attorney

The majority of spinal cord injuries are caused by accidents. Unfortunately, it is true that many accidents result because of a person's negligence. If you or a loved one have suffered a catastrophic injury because of someone's carelessness, the law may entitle you to recover damages. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your right to compensation.

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