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Blue Dye In M & Ms May Reduce Spinal Cord Injury

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 4:29 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Spinal Cord Injury, University of Rochester, Blue Dye, Emergency Room


Compound Brilliant Blue G helped injured rats walk again, it may minimize the effort of the death receptor after a spinal cord injury.

Blue Dye in M & M and Gatorade

Blue dye is found in foods normally considered in the “junk” category – blue M & Ms for instance.

But that same blue food dye, also known as Compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG) helped disabled rats walk again. The only down side was that the rats temporarily turned blue, reports CNN.

An injured spinal cord produced P2X7, known as the “death receptor” because it allows ATP to attach to motor neurons and kills them.

Maiken Nedergaard knew that blue dye used in some foods was able to stop P2X7 from doing its damage. The lead researcher tested in intravenously.

That’s when she found that the rats given BBG after an injury could walk again with a limp.

Currently spinal cord injury patients are generally given nothing upon entry into an emergency room. 15 percent are given steroids, with questionable benefit.

Nedergaard, a professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says the BBG may offer patients some improvement upon entry into an ER.

Researchers are currently pulling together an application to be lodged with the FDA to stage the first clinical trials of BBG on human patients.

"Our hope is that this work will lead to a practical, safe agent that can be given to patients shortly after injury, for the purpose of decreasing the secondary damage that we have to otherwise expect," Steven Goldman, Chair of the University of Rochester Department of Neurology says to CNN.

1,275,000 people are paralyzed from spinal cord injuries, nearly two percent of the American population, and more than five times the number previously estimated in 2007. 5.6 million Americans are paralyzed from all causes, a survey revealed in April from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation.

That is 40 percent more than previously thought. The foundation is named for the late actor Christopher Reeve who suffered paralysis in a horseback riding accident in 1995, and his wife, the late Dana Reeve.

“The numbers are astonishing. One in 50 people, it’s six million, it’s an unheard number we had no idea it was this large” said Alexandra Reeve Givens, daughter of the late actor to ABC News. #

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