Thursday, February 03, 2011

Cancer Drug May Aid Nerve Regeneration after Spinal Cord Injury

The cancer drug Taxol has the potential to assist nerve regeneration following a spinal cord injury, according to researchers.

The study, which has been published on the Sciencemag website, details how the drug can help in the regeneration of damaged cells in the central nervous system following a spinal cord injury.

According to the press release, Taxol "stabilizes growing nerve cells and reduces the barrier of scar tissue", two of the of the major obstacles when it comes to nerve regeneration.

And in a copy of the study sent to me by the Kennedy Krieger Institute detailing the test results it states that Taxol or Paclitaxel,which is used to treat ovarian, breast and some forms of lung cancer, "reduces fibrotic scarring and stimulates the capacity of axons to grow after spinal cord injury (SCI)."

Scientists from Germany, the Netherlands and the United States were involved in the trial which involved giving Taxol to rats, according to the Kennedy Krieger Center news page. The drug was continuously pumped into the site of a partial spinal cord lesion and within a short length of time the rats began to show a marked improvement in their mobility. The rats were given Taxol at 256 ng a day, less than would usually be given for chemotherapy treatment.
Dr. Andres Hurtado is the study author and a research scientist at the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, he said:

“The drug essentially reorganizes the cells’ microtubules allowing them to ignore ‘stop signs’ and to regrow through diminished scar tissue."

“It is a breakthrough for the cells and it puts us on a very promising path.”

The scientists say that further research is required before clinical trials can be carried out and it also needs to be determined whether Taxol works as well when it is used in the treatment of older nerve injuries.