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March 20, 2007


Research Breakthrough Suggests New Treatment for Spinal Cord Injuries


CHARLESTON -- In a multidisciplinary investigation led by Inderjit Singh, Ph.D, a breakthrough has been made in relation to the treatment of spinal cord injuries (SCI). Set for publication in the April issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry (101, 182-200), the study investigates the efficacy of atorvastatin (AT), commonly known as Lipitor, as a treatment for spinal cord injuries following trauma. The report demonstrates, for the first time, that by using AT in treating spinal cord injuries after they have occurred, animal models with hind-limb paralysis showed significant functional recovery and less secondary tissue damage. Importantly, scientists discovered that AT also protects the cells responsible for producing myelin in the spinal cord, a substance which maintains normal function by insulating nerve fibers that carry signals through the spinal cord. Therefore, this discovery of post-injury AT treatment may be extremely valuable in preserving neurological function and walking following spinal cord injuries.

Singh is a Pediatrics distinguished university professor, Division of Developmental Neurogenetics director and Darby Children's Research Institute scientific director.

Spinal cord injury is a major cause of disability, and the current therapy with high dose steroids offers little benefit. Statins, including AT, belong to a class of drugs that are known to affect numerous cellular processes. Experimental investigations and clinical trials in patients have established the neuroprotective efficacy of statin treatment in multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and spinal cord injuries.

"These exciting findings suggest that AT shelters myelin producing cells and neurons during the inflammatory storm produced by trauma, and that when the storm has passed that such cells resume myelin production," said DCRI executive director, neurologist and neuroscientist Bernard Maria, M.D. "It opens up a new paradigm for treatment of spinal cord injury by preserving the integrity of progenitor cells that would otherwise have died off."

more:

http://www.musc.edu/pr/singh.htm