World War II Drug Shows Promise for Spinal Injuries

Spinal cord injuries from vehicle collisions or other accidents can cause serious and lasting pain and nerve damage. Scientists are always on the hunt for new treatment options to ease the suffering for people who are victims of these life-altering incidents.

Antidote Found in an Unexpected Place

According to findings published in March in the Journal of Neurochemistry, a drug has been found to be promising as a way to suppress a neurotoxin causing pain in spinal cord injuries. Acrolein is the neurotoxin in question, a substance that the body produces when nerve cells are damaged. When acrolein is produced in the body, the pain and severity of the injury are increased.

“Previous studies have shown that acrolein levels increase significantly after spinal cord injury. It may be a key factor of secondary injury, which can expand the damage to adjacent tissue,” says Riyi Shi, one of the authors of the study and a professor of neuroscience and biomedical engineering in Purdue’s Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

In an unexpected twist, the researchers found that a drug called dimercaprol helps suppress acrolein the body. Oddly enough, this drug was developed during World War II and used as an antidote to chemical warfare weapons.

The researchers at Purdue University discovered that dimercaprol attacks some of the chemical features of the acrolein neurotoxin, which in turn allows the body to safely remove the toxin and its accompanying painful effects.

A Promising Option with Fewer Side Effects

Before this study, the other treatment options to get rid of the acrolein neurotoxin had inherent serious negative side effects when used in high concentrations. In contrast, dimercaprol causes fewer side effects, partly because it can be easily excreted in the urine and does not remain in the body.

This exciting research is still at its beginning phases, but is poised for continued progress since the Food and Drug Administration has already approved dimercaprol. Next steps would be to continue testing the drug with laboratory animals and to move on to clinical human studies.

Have You, or Someone You Love, Suffered a Spinal Injury?

Spinal injuries can be serious events that take severe financial tolls on an injured person and their families. If you have suffered a spinal injury as a result of negligence of another party, a skilled personal injury attorney can help you evaluate whether you are entitled to legal compensation.

At Dwyer Williams Dretke Attorneys, PC we know first-hand how these types of cases can be medically complicated, and that they require the most savvy and experienced injury lawyers to fight for you. We offer a free initial consultation to assess your spinal injury case, and encourage you to call us today at (541) 617-0555.