Scientists at the University of Michigan have successfully demonstrated, in mouse models, that an injection of nanoparticles can prevent paralysis in patient's with spinal cord injuries. The nanoparticles enhance the healing process of the central nervous system by preventing the body's immune system from overreacting to trauma, killing neurons and leading to paralysis. The team has dubbed this procedure an "EpiPen" for spinal cord trauma.
“In this work, we demonstrate that instead of overcoming an immune response, we can co-opt the immune response to work for us to promote the therapeutic response,” says Lonnie Shea, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan.
From the University of Michigan article: "But now, U-M researchers have designed nanoparticles that intercept immune cells on their way to the spinal cord, redirecting them away from the injury. Those that reach the spinal cord have been altered to be more pro-regenerative.
With no drugs attached, the nanoparticles reprogram the immune cells with their physical characteristics: a size similar to cell debris and a negative charge that facilitates binding to immune cells. In theory, their nonpharmaceutical nature avoids unwanted side effects.
With fewer immune cells at the trauma location, there is less inflammation and tissue deterioration. Second, immune cells that do make it to the injury are less inflammatory and more suited to supporting tissues that are trying to grow back together."
Read more about the paralysis preventing EpiPen for spinal cord injuries at University of Michigan.
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