A new study has revealed that a group of drugs being trialled for cancer could also be used to treat spinal cord injuries.
Researchers at Imperial College London, discovered that spinal cord injured mice treated with cancer drugs known as “nutlins” recovered much more movement than those that were left untreated.
Nutlins were found to promote nerve regrowth and cause functional improvements in mice with spinal cord injuries. If further testing proves successful, the drugs could be tested on human patients within the next five to 10 years.
The main reason why the outlook for recovery in people with spinal cord injuries is often so poor is because, unlike nerve cells in parts of the body such as the limbs and abdomen, brain and spinal nerve cells do not regenerate after injury.
Endeavours to develop therapies that promote nerve cell regrowth at the site of spinal cord injuries have all so far failed. There are currently no proven effective treatments for spinal cord injuries, and a patient’s loss of ability to feel or move parts of their body below after such an injury is permanent.
The Imperial College research found that nutlins prevented a series of proteins from interacting to restrict nerve growth. Nerve cells in the affected area were allowed to regrow and as a result, 75% of the mice used in the study went from being paralysed to being able to walk on a ladder. Mice treated with a placebo made only a slight recovery in their movement.
The findings are the result of years of research by the team at Imperial College London to understand the processes that prevent damaged nerve cells from repairing themselves.
Although the results of this study are encouraging, it is obviously important to acknowledge that these trials are at a very early stage and further testing is clearly needed before the prospect of clinical trials on humans can begin to become a reality.
For the thousand or so people who sustain spinal cord injury in the UK each year, their priority should be on obtaining the highest standard of treatment and rehabilitation.
In the majority of cases where someone has sustained a spinal cord injury in a road traffic accident or fall, the subsequent care and rehabilitation costs form the lion’s share of any claim for compensation.
Compensation can help rebuild independence and provide options for people living and learning to cope with the reality of a spinal cord injury.
The Slater and Gordon Spinal Injuries team has access to a network of treatment providers and medical experts with a vast range of experience in helping people who have suffered serious injuries. We can arrange medical treatment, physiotherapy, counselling, retraining, re-housing and many other rehabilitation services. Whatever the nature and extent of your injuries, we will make sure you are in the very best hands.
For a free consultation, call us on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.