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How Nanoparticles Could Prevent Paralysis

Could a device as simple as an EpiPen deliver life-altering care in the critical moments following a spinal cord injury? The University of Michigan says yes.

How Our Bodies React to a Spinal Cord Injury

In some instances of spinal cord injuries, the body sends its immune cells to the injury site to attempt to regenerate and support the area. When the injury breaches the blood-brain barrier, or the system that prevents substances from infiltrating the brain and disrupting functioning, immune cells slip past the barrier and begin to destroy the protective coating around our nerve cells.

As a result, the nerve cells become scarred and can’t regenerate, and paralysis takes place.

How Nanoparticles Could Help

Imagine a tool like an EpiPen that can be administered right when someone sustains a potentially paralyzing injury. Nanoparticles made of a biodegradable material can enter the body through the tool and bind with those wayward immune cells. The nanoparticles can reprogram those cells and send them away from the injury site, helping to prevent paralysis, reduce inflammation, and promote regeneration after injury.

Such a tool could be game-changing as a resource carried by EMTs and kept near some of the most common spinal cord injury sites, including recreational sport fields, beaches and pools, and extreme hobby or sport locations.

Written by Emily Progin