Food dye may help victims of spinal injury

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Research is currently being carried out into the use of food dye to minimise the risk of paralysis after a trauma to the spinal cord.

US researchers are working with the dye called "Brilliant Blue G (BBG)" to see if it can help halt damage to the spinal cord if administered within hours of the injury occurring.

Researchers at the University of Rochester said "Our hope is that this will work and will eventually lead to a practical, safe agent that can be given to patients shortly after injury."

When a spinal cord injury occurs, the vital energy source (ATP) which is used to keep the body's cells alive pours into the spinal cord area, but this also has the adverse reaction of attacking uninjured healthy motor neurone cells and making the injury worse.

So far results have shown that BBG has the ability to block ATP's effects on normal cells thus reducing the secondary damage that can occur for spinal injury victims.

Although there is currently one strange side effect whilst testing BBG on rats being that following treatment they have all turned a shade of blue!

Dr Mark Bacon, Head of research at the charity Spinal Research said: "There may be little we can do to stop the initial traumatic injury but we can certainly look to stop the insidious secondary damage that occurs in the spinal cord in the hours and days immediately afterwards."

"What we appear to have here is a promising lead in this quest for so-called neuroprotective treatments."

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