Novel approach also shows promise for autoimmune diseases
Paralyzing damage in spinal cord injury (SCI) is often caused by the zealous immune response to the injury. NIBIB-funded engineers have developed nanoparticles that lure immune cells away from the spinal cord, allowing regeneration that restored spinal cord function in mice.
ANN ARBOR—An injection of nanoparticles can prevent the body’s immune system from overreacting to trauma, potentially preventing some spinal cord injuries from resulting in paralysis.
The approach was demonstrated in mice at the University of Michigan, with the nanoparticles enhancing healing by reprogramming the aggressive immune cells—call it an “EpiPen” for trauma to the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord.
Drug Delivery: Overactive immune cells swallow Trojan horse nanoparticles that carry anti-inflammatory drugs
The human immune system can be an overenthusiastic caregiver. In a spinal cord wound, immune cells often aggravate the injury by stirring up inflammation long after it’s needed, which hinders healing. Now a group of Italian researchers demonstrate that, in mice, they can quiet the cells responsible for chronic inflammation around the spinal cord by targeting them directly with drug-laden nanoparticles
Richard Borgens and his colleagues from the Center for Paralysis Research at the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine have a strong record of inventing therapies for treating nerve damage. From Ampyra, which improves walking in multiple sclerosis patients to a spinal cord simulator for spinal injury victims, Borgens has had a hand in developing therapies that directly impact patients and their quality of life. Another therapy that is currently undergoing testing is the use of polyethylene glycol (PEG) to seal and repair damaged spinal cord nerve cells.