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Drug studied as possible treatment for spinal injuries

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers have shown how an experimental drug might restore the function of nerves damaged in spinal cord injuries by preventing short circuits caused when tiny "potassium channels" in the fibers are exposed.

The chemical compound also might be developed as a treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Because nerves usually are not severed in a common type of spinal cord trauma, called "compression" injuries, the drug offers hope as a possible treatment, said Riyi Shi, a professor in Purdue University's Department of Basic Medical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Center for Paralysis Research and Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

"Compression is responsible for most spinal cord injuries, including many resulting in paralysis," Shi said. "Since the nerves are not severed, this type of drug represents a potential golden opportunity to treat spinal cord injuries."

The experimental compound, 4-aminopyridine-3-methyl hydroxide, has been shown to restore function to damaged axons, slender fibers that extend from nerve cells and transmit electrical impulses in the spinal cord.

Findings, based on experiments with guinea pig spinal cord tissue, appeared online Wednesday (Nov. 18) in the Journal of Neurophysiology. The work was led by Department of Basic Medical Sciences doctoral student Wenjing Sun.

Shi said the findings were made possible by the interdisciplinary nature of the work, which also involves researchers Richard Borgens, director of Purdue's Center for Paralysis Research and the Mari Hulman George Professor of Neurology in the School of Veterinary Medicine; Stephen Byrn, the Charles B. Jordan Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, and Daniel Smith, a research assistant professor, both in the Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy; and Ji-Xin Cheng, an associate professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Chemistry.

The re

Contact: Emil Venere
Purdue University

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