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Purdue research offers hope for canine, human spinal injuries

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A successful method for healing spinal injuries in dogs has been developed by Purdue University researchers, offering hope for preventing human paralysis.

Lab tests have shown that an injection of a liquid polymer known as polyethylene glycol (PEG), if administered within 72 hours of serious spinal injury, can prevent most dogs from suffering permanent spinal damage. Even when the spine is initially damaged to the point of paralysis, the PEG solution prevents the nerve cells from rupturing irrevocably, enabling them to heal themselves.

"Nearly 75 percent of the dogs we treated with PEG were able to resume a normal life," said Richard Borgens, Mari Hulman George Professor of Applied Neuroscience and director of the Center for Paralysis Research in Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine. "Some healed so well that they could go on as though nothing had happened."

The research, performed at Purdue, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and Texas A&M University, appears in the December issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma.

In the study, 19 paraplegic dogs between 2 and 8 years of age were treated with a PEG injection within 72 hours of their injury as an addition to the standard veterinary therapy for spinal injury. This standard treatment includes injection of steroids, physical rehabilitation with swimming, and surgical removal of any offending chips of bone remaining in the spinal area after injury. This group of 19 was compared with a second group of 24 dogs that received only the standard treatment.

"The control group was taken from historical cases of dog injury that were similar to those in the 19 dogs we treated," Borgens said. "We didn't want to tell any owners who walked in with injured dogs that their pets were not going to receive something that might help. So we looked at the results that the standard treatment had on dogs that had suffered similar injuries in the past."
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Contact: Chad Boutin
cboutin@purdue.edu
765-494-2081
Purdue University
3-Dec-2004


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