An experimental oral drug for spinal-cord injury (SCI) has shown improvement in mice, according to study results released earlier this year.
The drug, LM11A-31, was effective at improving limb movement in the mice after SCI. Researchers say the compound efficiently crossed the blood-brain barrier, did not increase pain and showed no toxic effects to the animals.
"This is a first to have a drug that can be taken orally to produce functional improvement with no toxicity in a rodent model," says Sung Ok Yoon, associate professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
The research is published in the Jan. 9 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.
The drug was tested for its ability to prevent the death of cells called oligodendrocytes. These cells surround and protect axons, long projections of a nerve cell, by wrapping them in myelin. In addition to functioning as axon insulation, myelin allows for the rapid transmission of signals between nerve cells.
LMIIA-31 preserved oligodendrocytes by inhibiting the activation of a protein called p75. Yoon's lab previously discovered that p75 is linked to the death of these specialized cells after SCI. When they die, axons that are supported by them degenerate.
The drug was developed by study co-author Frank Longo, professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University. LMIIA-31 is the first to be developed with a specific target, p75, as a potential therapy for SCI.
For more information, visit jneurosci.org.