Living With a Spinal Cord Injury - Search for a Cure
Although, in the past, the results
spinal cord injury (SCI) were considered permanent,
new research is changing this perception. There may be a cure for paralysis
When nerve cells in the spinal cord are damaged, they
cannot always repair themselves. And other nerve cells in the area cannot
continue to grow. Some of the major research for SCIs looks at ways to
stimulate activity in damaged nerve cells (neurorestorative), stimulate growth
in damaged nerve cells (neuroregenerative), transplant new nerve tissue into
the spinal cord (neuroconstructive), and insert genes into the spinal cord
(neurogenetic). Research is also looking at ways to improve what people with
SCIs can do physically (functional research).
Craniopharyngioma (World Health Organization grade I) is often curable. (Refer to the Tumors of the Sellar Region section in the Classification section of this summary for more information.)
Standard treatment options:
Surgery alone if the tumor is totally resectable.
Debulking surgery plus radiation therapy if the tumor is unresectable.
Current Clinical Trials
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients...
The pace of research
is often slow. Spinal cord injuries are extremely complex. And research must
move from theory to practical and from animal studies to human studies. When a
therapy is being studied in humans, it must be proved beneficial and safe. And
it can take years before a new therapy reaches the public.
Following are some
of the areas where research is being done. Some of them may be at the point
where people with SCIs are using them on a trial basis. Others might still be
in the animal-study stage. They all have the potential to lead to a return of
some feeling and movement in paralyzed areas.
For more information
on research for a cure for an SCI, see the Other Places to Get Help section of
Neurorestorative and neuroregenerative
of research look at ways to stimulate activity of or growth in damaged nerve
Potassium channel blockers, such as 4-aminopyridine (4-AP), may
improve communication between undamaged areas and damaged areas. This medicine
is currently in early tests with humans.
Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, regulate neuron
growth. They may help nerve cells regenerate.
Nogo blockers. Nogo is a chemical that prevents axons, part of
a nerve cell, from growing. Axons carry messages between nerve cells. Nogo
research looks at ways to block nogo, thus allowing axon growth.
Neuroconstructive research explores transplanting cells into the spinal
cord, and neurogenetic research involves inserting
genes into the spinal cord.
Stem cells are immature cells that have the ability to grow
into any one of the body's cell types, including those destroyed or injured in
an SCI. The stem cells are transplanted into the spinal cord. Stem cells can
come from animals or humans and can be embryonic, fetal, or adult.
Other types of cells may also be useful in helping people with
SCIs. These include olfactory ensheathing glia, Schwann cells, and precursor