Breaking Grounds Study finds cancer drugs could be used to cure spinal cord injuries

According to Imperial College London researchers said the drugs should now be tested in rats and could be tested in human patients within 10 years.

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play (BBC)
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A study in mice has shown that group of drugs being tested for cancer could also be used to treat spinal cord injuries.

BBC reports that mice treated with cancer drugs called nutlins recovered much more movement than those left untreated.

According to Imperial College London researchers said the drugs should now be tested in rats and could be tested in human patients within 10 years.

Currently, there are no proven effective treatments for spinal cord injuries which leave victims paralysed and in wheel chairs.

More often than not, damage is permanent because it is very difficult to make spinal cord nerves regrow.

In the research on adult mice, the drugs, which are normally used to suppress tumours, stopped a particular series of proteins from interacting to restrict nerve growth.

Thus, in the mice with partially severed spinal cords they were able to make nerves regrow in the affected area.

This meant that 75% of the mice went from being paralysed to being able to walk on a ladder. Mice which were not treated with the cancer drugs only made a slight recovery in their movement.

Speaking on the discovery, study leader, Prof Simone di Giovanni, from the department of medicine at Imperial College London, said although the results in mice were "very encouraging", they now had to be replicated in studies in rats, whose spinal cords more closely resemble those of humans.

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