About 265,000 people in the U.S. suffer from spinal cord injuries. Researchers are planning to try out new experimental treatments for spinal cord injuries on dogs with the hope that these therapies will not only help the animals, but also supply valuable information which will also ultimately aid people with catastrophic injuries. The tests will involve pet beagles, corgis, and dachshunds.
The drug treatment being utilized was previously shown to be effective on injured mice. These results led to the U.S. Defense Department agreeing to provide $750,000 in research funds to try it out on dogs over a three-year study. The federal government hopes that soldiers and others suffering spinal cord injuries will ultimately benefit from the results.
Unfortunately, there currently is no known therapy which appears to make small dogs suffering from spinal cord injuries better, often leaving them in a permanently paralyzed state. The condition is frequently caused by disc ruptures, occurring on a spontaneous basis, which can tear or bruise their spinal cords, according to the Sun Times.
The experimental treatment to be tried involves a series of shots. The medicine injected has the effect of barring the path of a protein released in the body after a disc ruptures. The protein, without the injections, results in inflammation in the spinal cord tissue and can cause growing damage.
It is anticipated that the therapy may be ineffective in improving the lot of dogs already paralyzed a number of weeks or years ago. The drugs in the injections cannot re-grow nerve pathways already damaged or destroyed, but it may prove beneficial for those with recent injuries.