The common food additive that gives M&Ms and Gatorade their blue tint may offer promise for preventing the serious additional damage that immediately follows a traumatic injury to the spinal cord. Maybe the lame really will get up and walk in the future!

ATP, the vital energy source that keeps our body’s cells alive, quickly pours into the area surrounding a spinal cord injury shortly after it occurs, and kills off what are otherwise healthy and uninjured cells. Now researchers have found that the compound Brilliant Blue G (BBG) stops the cascade of molecular events that cause secondary damage to the spinal cord in the hours following a spinal cord injury, leading to even more damage and paralysis for patients.
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ChristopherReeve would have loved this: It’s a robotic suit thatcan be worn by people who are paralyzed from the waist down,which enables them to walk, stand and even climb stairs. Arewheelchairs finally a thing of the past?

BBC News quotes paralyzed Israeli soldier Radi Kaiof, whohas been in a wheelchair for 20 years, as saying, “I neverdreamed I would walk again. After I was wounded, I forgotwhat it’s like. Only when standing up can I feel how tall Ireally am and speak to people eye to eye, not from below.”

It’s a dream that Reeve hoped for and worked for, but didn’tlive to see.
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We may soon see people who spent years in wheelchairs get up and walk again.

A group of researchers think that, in the future, they may be able to use the body’s own nerves to “bridge the gap” in the spinal cord that is left when paralysis occurs. Researcher Marie Filbin was able to do this for paralyzed rats. BBC News quotes researcher Giorgio Terenghi as saying, “It’s a very good idea, but the key thing is how much function they will be able to restore using this technique.”

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The actor Christopher Reeve, who became paralyzed due to a riding accident, always insisted that he would walk again. He didn’t live long enough to see an amazing new breakthrough that might have made this possible.

A vaccine that stimulates the production of immune cells called T-helper cells, could enable people with serious spinal injuries to walk again. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have combined these cells with stem cells to repair broken spines in paralyzed mice. However, other researchers are skeptical about their results.
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