Researchers use dogs to study spinal cord injury treatments

Researchers use dogs to study spinal cord injury treatments

Could research using paralyzed dogs lead to better spinal cord injury treatments in humans? A neurology professor believes it can. He is part of a research team that received a $900,000 grant from the Department of Defense to work on non-invasive therapies for spinal cord injuries in dogs.

The professor's research focuses on enzymes that break down in the body after a spinal cord injury. Enzymes are proteins that cause chemical changes. Using paralyzed dogs, the professor is testing a drug that would block those enzymes.

    The professor says that research using rodents and experimental animals has had disappointing results. He says that the results of expensive clinical trials have not led to great results. He hopes that focusing on paralyzed dogs can lead to better treatments in humans.

    The hope is that this research will lead to better mobility and better ability to empty the bladder in people as well as dogs, the professor said. The executive director of a chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America says research that allowed paralyzed people to use walkers or leg braces rather than wheelchairs would be "phenomenal."

    Spinal cord injuries such as quadriplegia or paraplegia can have a devastating effect on a person's quality of life. Paralysis from such an injury can impair a person's ability to move and handle basic daily tasks such as eating or using the bathroom. Research that would allow people to regain these functions could significantly enhance their lives.

    Source: CBS News, New research on paralyzed dogs aimed at helping humans, Ryan Jaslow, July 24, 2013


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