The injured dogs offer a great opportunity to take the next step on this treatment because their injuries more closely mimic spontaneous human spinal cord injury and, as is the case with humans, no existing treatment has substantially reduced paralysis.
Dog in medical device
Noble's co-investigator on the new study, Jonathan Levine, DVM, an assistant professor in neurology at Texas A&M University, will treat the dogs through injections of a protein-blocking drug. He will then help the dogs through rehabilitation and assess their recovery. Ongoing studies at UCSF focus on further refining delivery of the drug so as to optimize recovery.
Other researchers have shown that movement can be preserved if as little as 18 percent to 20 percent of the nerve fiber tracts in the spinal cord remain intact.
If successful, the trials in injured dogs may lead to the development of similar treatments for people who suffer spinal cord injuries, Noble said. These are among the most expensive injuries: every person with an injured spinal cord costs the health care system millions of dollars over his or her lifetime.
Such costs often are overshadowed by the tragic and devastating personal price of the injuries, which dramatically alter lives and most often occur in younger people, with long lives in front of them. According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center, based at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, most of the 12,000 Americans who suffer spinal cord injuries are between the ages of 16 and 30.
As of this year, some 265,000 people in the United States are living with such injuries, according to the national center. This includes many wounded soldiers who have returned home from war zones.
|Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi|
University of California - San Francisco