Department of Defense Funds UCSF and Texas A&M Collaboration to Test Therapy that May Help People
An experimental drug being tested by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences — may help dogs with spinal cord injuries.
The U.S. Department of Defense,funded the study to test a drug to mitigate damage and it has already proven effective in mice at UCSF. Now the Texas team will test how it works in previously injured short-legged, long torso breeds of dog like dachshunds, beagles and corgis, who often suffer injuries when a disk in their back spontaneously ruptures.
The Small Animal Hospital of Texas A&M University, sees about 120 dogs a year for hind limb paralysis. They receive surgical and medical treatment similar to that for human spinal cord injury. Now, researchers will test whether the new treatment works on some of these dogs, with their owners’ consent.
“It would be phenomenal if it works,” said Linda J. Noble-Haeusslein, PhD, a professor in the UCSF departments of Neurological Surgery and Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science who designed the intervention. “We are in a unique position of being able to treat a dog population where there are simply no current therapies that could effectively improve their hind limb function.”
The new treatment is not trying to regrow pathways in the spine, but to prevent the secondary damage to the spinal cord that frequently causes hind limb paralysis.
Up until now there has been no treatment to reduce paralysis aafter the injury, but researchers have shown that movement can be preserved if as little as 18 percent to 20 percent of the nerve fiber tracts in the spinal cord remain intact.
If successful, the trials in injured dogs may lead to the development of similar treatments for people who suffer spinal cord injuries, Noble said. .
As of this year, some 265,000 people in the United States are living with such injuries, according to the national center. This includes many wounded soldiers who have returned home from war zones.
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