Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) are a serious problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 200,000 people are currently living with SCI in the United States. Each year, approximately 12,000 to 20,000 new cases occur each year. Depending on the severity of the injury, the costs associated with SCI can be significant: experts estimate that the average annual medical cost can be anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 or more.
What makes SCIs particularly devastating is that there is no cure. Although doctors can stabilize spinal cord injuries, there are no therapies that can heal the injury completely. As a result, patients who lose control of bodily functions due to an SCI can never regain them.
According to a new study out of Ohio State University, however, a new drug offers hope that patients may regain some bodily functions after an SCI. The drug, called LM11A-31, works by blocking the release of a protein after SCI that destroys nerve cells protecting axons, the structures that help transmit motor impulses from the brain to the rest of the body.
The drug has been shown to be effective in helping mice with severe spinal cord injuries to regain mobility. In the Ohio State study, mice received treatment with the drug for 42 days. Those animals that received the highest doses of the drug could eventually walk and move their limbs.
What is most significant about LM11A-31 is its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, a natural division between the brain and body’s circulatory system. The barrier acts to protect the brain from potentially harmful blood-borne substances, but can block drugs meant to help the brain.
Further research is needed to determine whether the drug can improve current treatments for spinal cord injuries. The current treatment to reduce the possibility of paralysis from SCI is to administer the drug methylprednisolone. Unfortunately, this drug must be administered within 24 hours of an injury to be effective. Because it takes up to a year for nerve cells to die, researchers are hopeful that LM11A-31 can play a role in recovery, even if the drug is not administered for days or weeks after the initial injury.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
If you or someone you love has suffered a spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury or other catastrophic injury, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can assess your case and help you get the fair and adequate compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. For more information about what a personal injury attorney can do for you, contact a lawyer today.