At Pacific Medical Law we represent patients who have suffered serious injuries to their spinal cord, causing them to be paralyzed and/or live with chronic pain. Our clients have suffered these injuries due to a variety of avoidable medical complications including undiagnosed infections and spinal cord fractures, or from negligence during surgery, as examples.
Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries are often permanent, and people living with spinal cord injuries will likely face challenges and disability for the rest of their lives. Damage to the spinal cord rarely heals because the injured nerve cells fail to regenerate. Scar tissue and processes inside the nerves hinder the regrowth of the cells’ nerve fibers.
However, there is hope. New research reported on Science Daily from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases suggests that the cancer drug epothilone may reduce the formation of scar tissue in spinal cord injuries and stimulate growth in damaged nerve cells – both of which have led to improved mobility in animal studies.
Nerve cells transmit and receive signals in the form of electrical impulses, but their function can be impaired by accidents or disease. The location of the damaged nerve largely affects whether or not the nerve will be able to recover. For instance, nerve cells in the limbs can regenerate to some degree and some or all of their functioning can be restored.
Unfortunately, neurons in the brain and spinal cord do not have the ability to regenerate. If they are damaged through accident or disease, the patient will likely suffer permanent paralysis or other disabilities.
The ideal treatment for promoting regeneration after an injury to the spinal cord would inhibit the formation of scar tissue to allow the nerve fibers to regrow. Studies of the drug epothilone – licensed on the North American market as a cancer treatment – have shown that it works on several levels. Epothilone inhibits cells from migrating to the spinal cord injury and causing wound scarring, and at the same time promotes the growth and regeneration of the damaged axon tips.
Although this is not a cure for damage to the spinal cord, it may represent a first step in research to improve the prognosis of people living with spinal cord injury.
For more information about this research click on the following link