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Organ transplant drug may help those with spinal injuries

The severity of a car crash will vary depending on a variety of circumstances. While some are minor fender benders, others can result in serious injuries to those involved. One of the most serious injuries someone could face in such an incident is a spinal cord injury.

The seriousness of spinal cord injuries can run the gamut as well. While in the worst cases a spinal injury can result in paralysis, even when the injury is not that severe, neuropathic pain and nerve damage can be present. That pain, often described as stabbing, burning and electric shock-like, can make it hard to do things that once were easy.

Research recently conducted on mice is focused on helping with some of those difficulties. The findings of the recent study—which were shared in the Journal of Orthopaedic research—focused on the use of rapamycin, to reduce neuropathic pain. The drug, which works by inhibiting the mammalian target of rapamycin, is commonly given to individuals who receive organ transplants. In those patients it suppresses their immune systems.

In the course of the study, mice suffering from a thoracic spinal cord contusion injury, that were given the drug four hours following the injury, were found to have locomotor function that was significantly improved as compared to those who were not administered the drug. In addition, in their hind paws, they experienced reduced thermal and mechanical hypersensitivity. While more testing is necessary before the drug could be used on humans, the findings of the study are promising for those who find themselves in this situation.

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