Cancer Drug Helps
Spine-Damaged Mice
Recover Use of Limbs
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Originally used in the battle against cancer, a drug has shown promise for the treatment of spinal injuries, according to researchers at Vanderbilt University.
Of 26 mice with spinal cord injuries, 24 recovered the ability to walk within 12 days after treatment with the drug CM101, according to a report in Tuesday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. One died and one remained paralyzed.
By comparison, of 14 mice with similar injuries that did not receive the drug, eight died and none of the six survivors recovered the function of paralyzed limbs.
"We are encouraged by the research," said Thomas H. Countee Jr., executive director of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.
But he cautioned that a lot of work remains to be done before the results might be extended to humans.
"This is just a few mice; then you have to go to cats and perhaps primates and then, finally, to the human model," he said.
But since its use in cancer research has already shown the drug to be safe for humans, tests on people with spinal injuries might occur as early as late next year, said Carl G. Hellerqvist, one of the researchers.
CM101 has shown promise in fighting cancer by blocking the formation of new blood vessels, which are needed by rapidly growing tumors.
In the tests on mice, CM101 "significantly reduced the compression-induced scarring" around the spinal cord following injury, reported researchers Artur W. Wamil, Barbara D. Wamil and Hellerqvist.
In the injured mice the drug was given within an hour after injury and doses were repeated every other day.
Use of CM101 in older spinal cord injuries, however, would require surgical removal of the scar formed after the initial injury, treatment with the drug to prevent rescarring, and use of other chemicals to encourage nerve regrowth, the Vanderbilt researchers report.