Health Discoveries in General Health News

Cancer drug helps cells regenerate after spinal injury

January 28, 2011

In laboratory tests, an international team of researchers found that the cancer drug Taxol (paclitaxel) promotes regeneration of injured nerve cells after a spinal cord injury, according to a study published online in the journal Science.

The team included researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Germany and, the Kennedy Krieger Institute's International Center for Spinal Cord Injury in Maryland, the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and the University of Miami in Florida.

They found that the cancer drug both stabilizes the microtubule so injured nerve cells are able to grow and prevents production of inhibitory substances in the scar tissue. A reduced amount of scar tissue develops at the injury site to protect it, but the growing nerve cells were able to get past this barrier.

"The drug essentially reorganizes the cells' microtubules allowing them to ignore 'stop signs' and to regrow through diminished scar tissue," said Dr. Andres Hurtado, a scientist at Krieger's International Center for Spinal Cord Injury. "It is a breakthrough for the cells and it puts us on a very promising path."

Within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, the Spine Center at Southside Hospital's Institute of Neurosciences in Bay Shore, New York, treats both common and complex spine disorders.

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