Study suggests cancer drug might also treat spinal cord injuries

A new study published in Science Express highlights the effect the cancer drug Taxol may possibly have on those suffering from spinal cord injuries. The study was published on Jan. 27 and suggests that low doses of Taxol have helped stimulate the growth of nerve cells in rats with spinal cord injuries. Researchers are conducting more work on the study in hopes to find a treatment for similar injuries in humans.

Spinal cord injuries can result from numerous types of accidents, and the effects are life-changing. A construction worker could fall at work and become paralyzed, preventing the individual from working in construction ever again. A driver or passenger in a car could be hit by a drunk driver and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of their life. Others could be permanently disabled due to a surgical or medical error. Whatever the cause, the lasting effects are devastating when one suffers from a spinal cord injury.

When one suffers from a spinal cord injury, nerve cells in the spine cannot grow or re-grow. This can cause loss of sensation or loss of motor function in the body. However, researchers believe that Taxol, a drug currently used for chemotherapy, may also help stimulate the re-growth of nerve cells in the spinal cord.

According to the study, rats with spinal cord injuries were treated with low doses of Taxol over a period of six to eight weeks. Rats with no injuries can easily walk on sticks, but rats suffering from spinal cord injuries tend to slip and have difficulty with the task. After several weeks of treatment, rats with the injuries were tested on their ability to walk on the sticks. The rats treated with Taxol showed improvement in the task and had fewer slips. Researchers believe that the drug has helped stimulate growth in the nerve cells of the rats. They believe humans could experience a similar growth in nerve cells, which could help treat the effects of spinal cord injuries.

The fact that Taxol is already approved as a cancer drug for humans has researchers excited about their progress with studying spinal cord injuries. Although researchers acknowledge how this study may open up the possibilities of new forms of therapy for individuals with spinal cord injuries, more research must be done. Personal injury attorneys are also excited about this development. They have seen first-hand the devastating impact a catastrophic injury can have on a client and the individual’s family.

Source:MSNBC: “Cancer drug may help spinal cord injuries,” Rachel Rettner, 27 Jan. 2011