This was finding of a research conducted on rats at the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2004. The research team, led by Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, worked on the premise that inflammation causes more irreversible and inevitable damage than the initial trauma (Henrich, Kelly, Reinhardt et al.).
The team injected the blue food dye into some of the experimental rats with spinal cord injuries (Reuters 2009, Takahiro 2009, Michaud 2009, Ehrenberg 2009). The rats at first began to move, hobbled about and turned blue. Rats, which did not receive the injection, did not walk or move at all. A substance, called ATP, is the source that keeps cells alive. The research showed that ATP runs out of control in spinal cord injury, activates an inflammation-causing molecule and kills spinal neuron cells. Treatment must be administered immediately after the injury. The experiment showed that Brilliant Blue G. blocks the action of ATP in flooding the spinal injury and producing inflammation.
Until the time of the research, there was no effective way of treating acute spinal cord injury aside from the use of steroids. Yet steroids offered some protection at best and only to some patients (Reuters, Takahiro, Michaud, Eherenberg). Experimental rats, which received Brilliant Blue G. injections, recovered much of their limb function and walked again (Reinhardt et al., 2010). ATP is basically beneficial as a source of energy for body cells. But it is also responsible for the inflammatory response to injury. The over-stimulation of neurons by ATP leads them to die from metabolic stress. These neurons are susceptible to ATP because of a molecule called "the death receptor," P2X7. This molecule regulates the death of immune cells, like macrophages. This was what Dr. Nedergaard and his research team found out in 2004. Brilliant Blue G. had to be injected directly into the injured area during their experiment. But it would not be practical to inject it directly on spinal-cord-injured patients as the team did on experimental rats. Dr. Nedergaard explained that no one will want to put a needle into a severely injured spinal cord. This meant that another way had to be devised to quickly deliver Brilliant Blue G. into the injury in order to stop ATP from destroying health motor neurons. Moreover, the compound used by the research team had dangerous side effects (Reinhardt, et al.).
Brilliant Blue G. is a most promising and exciting news to the sufferers of spinal cord injury (Reinhardt et al. 2010). But it will take more time to make it suitable to human beings. Moreover, it is not effective to injuries more than a day old and if the treatment is not administered immediately. The team, nevertheless, felt optimistic that effective treatments would eventually evolve from similar strategies (Reinhardt et al.). #
Ehrenberg, Rachel. Brilliant Blue for the Spine. Vol 176 # 5. Science News: Society
for Science and the Public, 2009. Retrieved on January 16, 2010 from http://www.siencenews.org/view/generic/id/4593/title/Brilliant_blue_for_the_spine
Hendrich, Bill. Blue Dye in M & M. Helps Spinal Cord Injuries? Web MD Health News:
WebMD LLC, 2009. Retrieved on January 16, 2010 from http://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20090729/blue-dye-mms-helps-spinal-cord-injuries