A new study presented in Issue 18, Volume 244, of the journal “Experimental Biology and Medicine,” suggests a novel method to treat spinal cord injury (SKI). The study results reveal that in an animal model with spinal cord injury, recovery was promoted via the use of a small molecule – P7C3.
Spinal cord injury (SCI) is a problem of the neurological system caused by an injury to the spinal nerves or spinal cord. It affects body function, strength, and sensation of the areas that are present below the damaged site.
According to a report provided by the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, currently, almost 450,000 of the American population has been suffering from spinal cord injury. Whereas, according to the estimation of some other organizations, the number of affected individuals in the U.S. is nearly 250,000.
The entire sensory and motor function below the injured site diminishes in the case of a complete SCI, corresponding to about 50 percent of the total spinal cord injuries. It is the result of a bruise, contusion, or decreased blood flow to the damaged area of the spinal cord.
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Complete SCIs uniformly affect both sides of the body. Whereas, in the case of incomplete injury or SCI, there isn’t a complete loss of function. Individuals suffering from incomplete SCI have the greater ability to move their one arm or leg compared to the ones with complete SCI.
Approximately 17,000 of the American population is diagnosed with spinal cord injuries. Among these SCIs, mostly are a consequence of damage to the vertebral column.
Such injuries affect the ability of the spinal cord to transmit signals between the brain and the body. And in this manner, it influences the autonomic, sensory, and motor function below the site of injury. The CDC reports that SCI adds 9.7 billion American dollars to the nation’s expenses on an annual basis.
At present, there is a lack of effectual therapies to deal with this neurological disorder. But the treatment options that have the ability to promote the survival of oligodendrocytes and neurons may be helpful in avoiding long-term neurological impairment.
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This study has led to the discovery of a small molecule – P7C3. The effects of this orally bioavailable molecule were studied in an animal model. The results indicated that P7C3 crosses BBB (blood-brain barrier) and enhances the survival of neurons.
The protective effects of P7C3 have been confirmed by different pre-clinical studies. It has been proved to be beneficial in the case of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, peripheral nerve injury, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, neurodegeneration-associated depression, and age-associated cognitive decline.
Even so, its effect as a therapy for the spinal cord hasn’t been assessed. In this study, an animal model of SCI was used to analyze the impact of P7C3. The research team found that animals who received this molecule showed an improvement in the survival of oligodendrocyte and neurons.
When compared with untreated animals, an improvement in myelination, tissue repair, and locomotor function was also observed. These neuroprotective effects suggest P7C3 – aminopropyl carbazole as a potential treatment for spinal cord injury. Future studies on this molecule may improve long-term SCI outcomes, said the journal’s editor-in-chief, Dr. Steven R. Goodman.