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Blue M&Ms linked to reducing spine injury

Posted by on Jul. 28, 2009 at 12:31 PM
  • 6 Replies

 

(CNN) -- The same blue food dye found in M&Ms and Gatorade could be used to reduce damage caused by spine injuries, offering a better chance of recovery, according to new research.

Rats injected with BBG not only regained their mobility but temporarily turned blue.

Rats injected with BBG not only regained their mobility but temporarily turned blue.

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Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that when they injected the compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG) into rats suffering spinal cord injuries, the rodents were able to walk again, albeit with a limp.

The only side effect was that the treated mice temporarily turned blue.

The results of the study, published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," build on research conducted by the same center five years ago.

In August 2004, scientists revealed how Adenosine triphosphate, which is known as ATP and described as the "energy currency of life," surges to the spinal cord soon after injury occurs.

Researchers found that the sudden influx of ATP killed off healthy cells, making the initial injury far worse. But when they injected oxidized ATP into the injury, it was found to block the effect of ATP, allowing the injured rats to recover and walk again.

"While we achieved great results when oxidized ATP was injected directly into the spinal cord, this method would not be practical for use with spinal cord-injured patients," said lead researcher Maiken Nedergaard, professor of Neurosurgery and director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"First, no one wants to put a needle into a spinal cord that has just been severely injured, so we knew we needed to find another way to quickly deliver an agent that would stop ATP from killing healthy motor neurons. Second, the compound we initially used, oxidized ATP, cannot be injected into the bloodstream because of its dangerous side effects."

Back in 2004, Nedergaard's team discovered that the spinal cord was rich in a molecule called P2X7, which is also known as "the death receptor" for its ability to allow ATP to latch onto motor neurons and send the signals which eventually kill them.

Nedergaard knew that BBG could thwart the function of P2X7, and its similarity to a blue food dye approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1982 gave her the confidence to test it intravenously.

It worked. The rats given BBG immediately after their injury could walk again with a limp. Those that didn't receive a dose never regained their mobility.

Nedergaard told CNN that there is currently no standard treatment for patients with spinal injury when they reach the hospital emergency room.

"Right now we only treat 15 percent of the patients we receive with steroids and many hospitals question if that even works for that 15 percent; it's a very moderate benefit to only a subset of patients. So right now 85 percent of patients are untreated," she said.

Nedergaard said the research team isn't claiming that BBG can cure spinal injuries, instead that it offers a potential improvement in patients' condition.

"Even a moderate improvement in functional performance of the patient is a big, big event for these patients," she said. "They can control their bladder. If they can just take small steps instead of sitting in a wheelchair all the time, it's a tremendous benefit for these patients," she added.

The dose must be administered immediately after the injury, before additional tissue dies as a result of the initial injury.

Researchers are currently pulling together an application to be lodged with the FDA to stage the first clinical trials of BBG on human patients.

"Our hope is that this work will lead to a practical, safe agent that can be given to patients shortly after injury, for the purpose of decreasing the secondary damage that we have to otherwise expect," said Steven Goldman, Chair of the University of Rochester Department of Neurology.

" But the NATURAL man RECEIVETH NOT the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can HE KNOW THEM, because they are SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED." 1 Cor.2:14.

by on Jul. 28, 2009 at 12:31 PM
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Replies (1-6):
LavenderMom23
by Bronze Member on Jul. 28, 2009 at 12:37 PM
Haha, vitamins are said to do the same!

The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! (Numbers 6:24-26)

anxiousschk
by anxiouss on Jul. 28, 2009 at 12:41 PM

What vitamins?  Honestly...I hadn't heard that....I've heard of "cold therapy" where they keep the person really cold....I think they did this with some sports player???

I honestly haven't heard of vitamins potentially helping someone walk again.

Honestly, I find the blue dye article quite interesting.

Quoting LavenderMom23:

Haha, vitamins are said to do the same!


mrs_khan07
by Silver Member on Jul. 28, 2009 at 12:56 PM

That's very interesting. And that rat is so adorable! All blue and stuff. Is that weird for me to say? Anyway, I have to share this story with my mom. She worships at the church of chocolate and tries to convince people to "take their chocolate vitamins". There's no way I'd even be able to convince her that it's the dye and not the chocolate.

Mrs. Khan

ddbz
by Silver Member on Jul. 28, 2009 at 1:55 PM

It's nice to see some info from a reputable source:

 http://rocwiki.org/University_of_Rochester_Medical_Center

I hope that this works for humans, but I also hate to see the kind of research that they do to produce those injuries in the lab animals.

I hope there is a humane way to cause a spinal injury ...

MattisMommy08
by Bronze Member on Jul. 28, 2009 at 1:58 PM

I would do it just so I could be blue - even if only temporarily!  I have always wondered what it would be like to be a Smurf!!!


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Stefanie1085
by Silver Member on Jul. 28, 2009 at 2:16 PM


Quoting mrs_khan07:

That's very interesting. And that rat is so adorable! All blue and stuff. Is that weird for me to say? Anyway, I have to share this story with my mom. She worships at the church of chocolate and tries to convince people to "take their chocolate vitamins". There's no way I'd even be able to convince her that it's the dye and not the chocolate.

I like the rat too =). I saw this on GMA this morning

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