ANN ARBOR—An injection of nanoparticles can prevent the body’s immune system from overreacting to trauma, potentially preventing some spinal cord injuries from resulting in paralysis.
In a normal injury, immune cells infiltrate the damaged area and clear debris to initiate the regenerative process.
The central nervous system, however, is usually walled off from the rough-and-tumble of immune activity by the blood-brain barrier.
A spinal cord injury breaks that barrier, letting in overzealous immune cells that create too much inflammation for the delicate neural tissues.
That practice has largely been discarded since it comes with side effects that include sepsis, gastrointestinal bleeding and blood clots.
But now, U-M researchers have designed nanoparticles that intercept immune cells on their way to the spinal cord, redirecting them away from the injury.
Shea is also the William and Valerie Hall Chair of Biomedical Engineering and a professor of chemical engineering. »