As a trial lawyer in Georgia, I have often represented people who became quadriplegic or paraplegic due to traumatic spinal cord injury. The lack of effective treatments to reverse spinal cord damage has condemned people with such injuries to life in a wheelchair, or worse.
Now, nanotechnology researchers at Northwestern University are working on a new nano-engineered gel designed to inhibit the formation of scar tissue at the injury site in order to enable the severed spinal cord fibers to regenerate and grow. The intent is for the gel to be injected as a liquid into the spinal cord and self -assemble into a scaffold that supports new nerve fibers as they grow up and down the spinal cord, penetrating the site of the injury.
When the gel was injected into mice with a spinal cord injury, after six weeks the animals had a much improved ability to use their hind legs and walk.
Remember that this is preliminary research with mice, and is a long way from development for use with human patients. However, it is a glimmer of hope for future SCI victims.
Ken Shigley is a Georgia trial lawyer focused on cases of catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death. He has been rated as one of the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine) and a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine). He has represented numerous survivors of spinal cord and brain injuries. A Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, he served a decade on the faculty of the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program. Mr. Shigley is currently Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia.