Strategies for Neuroprotection following Brain and Spinal Cord Injury

Secondary degeneration of neural tissue, initially spared but located adjacent to irreversibly damaged tissue and at-risk, can lead to further, and often, permanent neurological damage after the initial injury to the brain and spinal cord. This a process is called secondary injury. We are studying a number of different approaches, both cell-based and pharmacological, that can limit secondary degeneration and preserve neurological function following trauma to the brain and spinal cord. Our labs were the first, for example, to show how sodium channels contribute to axonal degeneration in the injured brain and spinal cord, and this hopefully will lead to new therapeutic approaches that protect at-risk axon, thus preserving function, after injury to the spinal cord and brain. In related studies we are examining the role of sodium channels in inflammatory and immune cells that contribute to injury of white matter tracts. We have discovered that these channels play important functional roles, and are moving toward new immunotherapeutic approaches.