Researchers at Imperial College London have discovered that drugs being tested for cancer could be used to treat spinal cord injuries.

Researchers found that paralysed mice who were treated with cancer drugs called nutlins recovered more movement than mice not treated with the drug.

The drugs, which are normally used to reduce tumours, caused nerves in affected areas to regrow. The result was that 75% of the paralysed mice were able to walk on a ladder following treatment.

A spinal cord injury can affect a patient’s ability to walk, move or feel parts of their lower body. The damage is often permanent as it is very difficult to make spinal cord nerves regrow and there is currently no treatment proven to be effective for spinal cord injury.

Researchers from Imperial College London have recommended that their trial should now be replicated in rats because rats’ spinal cords more closely resemble those of humans. They say that, if the trial on rats is positive then there could be human tests within the next ten years.

Imogen Wetton, a serious injury solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Manchester office, said: “There is currently no cure for spinal cord injury so any research which could potentially improve the lives of spinal cord injury victims is very encouraging.

“The effects of a spinal cord injury can be devastating and those affected often face intensive and life-long rehabilitation post injury. This research may be in its very early stages, but the fact that there is even this glimmer of hope will be seen as a positive by people with spinal cord injuries and could prove to be life-changing if the next trials replicate the first.”