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New Drug Giving Hope to Spinal Cord Patients

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A new medication being tested at Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital gives hope to patients with severe spinal cord injuries.

The drug Cethrin has been in safety trials, says Jefferson neurosurgeon James Harrop. Cethrin is a protein applied to a sheath covering the spinal cord. From there, it interrupts a peculiar reaction that follows a spinal injury, programmed cell death in which neurons give up the ghost. It also aids surviving nerve cells in reconnecting.

Usually, someone with a complete spinal injury has a less than three percent chance of regaining any sensation past the site. With Cethrin, that went up to 31 percent:

“The results are pretty encouraging because we’re seeing that we might be able to intervene and treat a disease that, ten or fifteen years ago, was untreatable in many people’s eyes.”

Dr. Harrop cautions, more studies are ahead, but so far, so good.

by KYW’s John Ostapkovich

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