New hope for spinal cord injury victims

Tuesday August 6, 2013

People who suffer severe neck, back and limb injuries often face years of impaired functioning, even if they are fortunate enough to have access to good long-term medical and therapeutic care. Even with the advent of better therapies and pharmaceuticals to improve these patients’ health, they often face years of physical suffering.

Those who suffer such unfortunate spinal cord injuries in Connecticut may find good news in a recent research report that suggests a naturally occurring protein in the body can accelerate a form of healing that enhances recovery from such injuries.

A researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discovered that the P45 protein encourages spinal cord healing and recovery by preventing additional cell death following tissue injury. This natural process usually prevents damaged nerve cells from recovering. Unfortunately, P45 is not found in sufficient amounts in humans.

In the typical spinal cord injury, a cascading reaction within damaged cells leads to additional cell death and irreversible spinal damage. From studies performed on mice, researchers found that P45 prevents two other proteins from entering the usual cascade of reactions that kill more cells. This natural action as an antidote could help pharmaceutical developers create targeted drugs that allow easier recovery after a spinal cord injury.

Research such as this offers hope to spinal cord injury victims, although it could take years or decades to develop effective drugs. For now, treatment of such injuries is limited and usually expensive. However, if a spinal cord damage is the result of another individual’s negligence — whether in connection to a motor-vehicle crash, a workplace accident or a fall — a victim may be entitled to financial compensation.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit could lead to compensation that covers the cost of medical treatment and rehabilitation as well as financially redressing emotional damages.

Source: Medical Xpress, “Scientist discovers novel mechanism in spinal cord injury,” July 25, 2013

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