Shot for Paralysis

Published: May 6, 2007  |  Source: wfrv.com
56

(WFRV) PHILADELPHIA, PA Right now.. there are no effective therapies for spinal cord injuries.

But a protein injection may help some patients walk again.

Two years ago.. Michelle Robinson was on her way home from work when she was hit by a car.

Michelle Robinson/Patient – “All I remember is hearing a loud screeching noise and I remember going, flying up in the air.”

The accident left the 42-year-old mother paralyzed.

Now she hopes an experimental drug will put her back on her feet.

James Harrop, MD/Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience
“It appears that this actually does improve their prognosis.”

Doctor James Harrop is testing the novel drug called cethrin to treat spinal cord injuries.

James Harrop, MD/Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience
“It’s a paste or a jelly that you sort of just spread onto the spinal cord with a little applicator, like a syringe.”

Doctors apply the protein during standard decompression surgery.. to stabilize the spine.

The idea is to stop nerve cell death that continues days to weeks after the injury.

James Harrop, MD/Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience
“Inside the cell, there’s a nucleus which is controlling sort of this, the auto-regulator of the cell and what it’s doing is it’s telling the cell we don’t want you to function anymore.”

Cethrin is designed to interfere with that message.. by seeping through the spinal cord membrane to cells at the injury site.

James Harrop, MD/Jefferson Hospital for Neuroscience
“It goes into the cell and it says ‘wait a minute’. I don’t want you guys going down that path anyways, I want you to stop and I want you to start repairing the cell.”

Early trials show the protein therapy is safe.

And the results are promising.

Michelle told us she’s both ‘excited’ and ‘hopeful’ the new therapy will work for her.

Michelle Robinson/Patient
“I say those words because Dr. Harrop told me that he was very hopeful that, you know, maybe one day I would be able to walk again, so I’m very hopeful also.”

Doctors caution that cethrin.. Also called b-a-210.. Is not a magic bullet.

But in the study.. 31 percent of patients regained some function.. after being injected with the drug.

Lisa Malak, Anchor
CBS 5 First News and Noon