A team of scientists from the University of Birmingham has discovered that a drug currently being tested for cancer therapy can promote the regeneration of damaged nerves in patients with spinal cord injuries.
This drug is being tested for cancer therapy since it makes tumor cells more sensitive to radiation treatment.
It penetrates the brain and obstructs a mechanism linked to the DNA damage response system. Activation of this system may slow down or inhibit recovery from spinal cord injury by hampering nerve repair.
Researchers used the drug known as AZD1390 to block the response to DNA damage in nerve cells and facilitate the regeneration of damaged nerves in animal models with spinal trauma. The drug promoted nerve regeneration and also enhanced the capacity of these nerves to relay electrical signals.
The research team also found that a different but similar drug, AZD1236 can block inflammation in the spine following spinal injury when taken orally.
The restoration of sensory and motor function was “dramatic”
University of Birmingham Professor of Neuroscience and study author Zubair Ahmed said, “This is an exciting time in spinal cord injury research with several different investigational drugs being identified as potential therapies for spinal cord injury. We are particularly excited about AZD1390, which can be taken orally and reaches the site of injury in sufficient quantities to promote nerve regeneration and restore lost function,”
“Our findings show a remarkable recovery of sensory and motor functions, and AZD1390-treated animals being indistinguishable from uninjured animals within four weeks of injury.”
Though it is just an initial study, the fact that the drug is already under investigation for cancer therapy may shorten its path to clinical use in patients with spinal cord injuries.