Giving patients an injection of nanoparticles could stop the body’s immune system from overreacting to trauma, and has the potential to prevent paralysis caused by spinal cord injuries.

This approach, billed as an EpiPen for trauma, could be used on injuries to the central nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord, a study shows.

Demonstrated in mice by researchers at the University of Michigan, the nanoparticles enhance healing by reprogramming aggressive immune cells, with just their physical characteristics.

No drugs are involved in the treatment, which is thought will help to avoid any unwanted side effects.

Previous attempts to offset complications from the body’s immune response in spinal cord injuries, such as injecting the steroid methylprednisolone, have been discarded due to the high risk side effects including sepsis, gastrointestinal bleeding and blood clots.

Now researchers have designed nanoparticles that intercept immune cells on their way to the spinal cord, redirecting them away from the injury.

Fewer immune cells at the trauma location mean there is less inflammation and tissue deterioration. In addition, immune cells that do make it to the injury are less inflammatory and more suited to supporting tissues to grow back together.

Previous research has shown nanoparticles to be successful in reducing trauma caused by the West Nile virus and multiple sclerosis.





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