Spinal cord research benefits dogs

Last week, the University of California San Francisco issued a press release about the promising research of Dr Linda J Noble-Haeusslein and her collaborators at Texas A&M  University.

The US Department of Defense has granted $750,000 over three years to develop a drug that helps to mitigate the secondary damage associated with spinal cord injury.  When an injury occurs, there is a cascading chemical reaction that damages nearby cells and that means – essentially – that more damage happens than that caused by the immediate injury.

It is thought that the drug, a protein-blocking agent, will successfully interfere with that cascading process and preserve sensitive neurological pathways.

Other neurological researchers have shown that movement in the spine can be preserved if as little as 18-20 percent of nerve fibre tracts remain intact.

Dogs such as Dachshunds, Corgis and Beagles (dogs with a long torso) are known to be susceptible to disc ruptures.   When a dog presents with a disc rupture at the Small Animal Hospital at Texas A&M University, their owner will be asked to consent to the experimental treatment.

And why is the funding coming from the Department of Defence?  Well, sadly, there are many wounded soldiers returning from overseas war zones with spinal injuries.

Source:  University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) (2012, January 18). Saving dogs with spinal cord injuries. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2012/01/120118155338.htm

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