Study: New Cancer Drug May Also Work for Spinal Cord Injuries
Researchers at the Imperial College London have discovered that the cancer drug Nutlins may also be able to reverse spinal cord damage. Scientists were testing the oncology drug (which was formerly used to suppress tumours) on mice when it became apparent it was leaving the subjects with much more movement than those that were left untreated.
The drug was found to successfully regrow nerves of partially severed spinal cords in mice, enabling 75% of them to walk having been previously paralyzed. This is compared to the minor improvement in those mice given a placebo. Currently, there are no effective treatments to repairing damaged spinal cords, suggesting that this discovery could be considered a breakthrough. Those suffering from spinal cord injuries can experience paralysis in parts of the body, and unlike limbs and other tissues, the spinal cord is unable to repair the damage.
The findings have been published in medical journal Brain, and mark the culmination of many years research at Imperial College London. Nutlins was found to prohibit proteins which normally interact to restrict nerve growth, resulting in nerve growth in mice; first on optic nerve injuries, then with spinal cord injuries.
Professor Simone di Giovanni, from the Department of Medicine, has said:
“We have identified a mechanism that controls nerve regeneration, and there are already experimental drugs that target this pathway, suggesting an opportunity to translate these findings into the clinic."
He described these results were ‘very encouraging’ but they now wish to concentrate on using rats to replicate the study, because their spinal cords more closely resemble those of humans. Researchers from the Imperial College London team believe that following the study on rats, the drug may be ready for human trialling within just ten years.
This comes with much promise for those with spinal cord injuries and damage and proves exciting in the world of spinal cord treatment. Though this study is still in the process of trialling, and they hope human testing can happen within ten years, this is still a ballpark figure.
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