New Understanding of Immune System May Lead to Better Spinal Cord Injury Treatment

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spinal cord injuryNew research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation provides a glimmer of hope for patients affected by traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Researchers from the University of Virginia have discovered a previously unknown immune system response that triggers nerve cell protection and regeneration, or inflammation and destruction. They hope that this knowledge will help doctors develop improved treatments for traumatic injuries, as well as degenerative diseases like Lou Gehrig’s, Alzheimer’s, and glaucoma.

While these potential treatments of traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries seem promising, New Jersey personal injury lawyers at Eisbrouch Marsh can help people who are suffering with more immediate concerns. When other parties are at least partially responsible, financial compensation secured through the court system may cover everything from past medical bills, expensive treatments, and rehabilitation costs, to lost wages, disability payments, and – in the most tragic cases — funerary benefits.

Researchers find hidden language of the immune system

Once an injury occurs, the immune system sends out a series of advanced signals that prompt regeneration or destruction of central nervous system neurons. According to researchers, “Once CNS neurons die, they’re gone for life; they don’t come back.” This cell death is what causes serious impairment, disability, and (in some cases) death for patients with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and degenerative diseases.

Understanding how central nervous system damage occurs illuminates how medical professionals may intervene to facilitate the body’s natural healing. “The immune system can cause damage to the CNS, but it can also be beneficial, and we’re showing here how it’s beneficial,” lead study author James T. Walsh, PhD, explains.

Study co-author Jonathan Kipnis, PhD clarifies: “What we have shown is that the injured central nervous system talks to the immune system in a language that hasn’t been previously recognized in this context. It sends ‘danger signals’ and activates the immune system very rapidly. These danger signals cause immune cells to produce a molecule called interleukin 4, which happens to be indispensable for immune mediated neuroprotection after CNS trauma.”

Future spinal cord trauma care may harness Interleukin-4

Currently, spinal injury treatments focus on inflammatory response suppression, and there are no treatments that effectively promote neuronal survival. So the discovery that the Interleukin-4 growth factor secretion protects the nerve cells and promotes regeneration is significant for the development of new therapies. In the future, doctors may also be able to predict how well a patient will respond to treatment by testing for the number of Interleukin-4 cells present.

Consult with a New Jersey spinal cord injury lawyer

For victims of brain and spinal cord injuries, any new insights that may lead to better treatments is welcome news. However, there are often more pressing concerns like, “How will we pay these medical bills that are piling up?” Or “How will we live on a reduced income, without our family’s primary breadwinner bringing in wages?” Most injured victims do not like thinking about litigation, but it is important to seek just compensation for injuries to prevent future mishaps and obtain what is legally owed to you.

Defendants in spinal cord injury cases may include motor vehicle operators, medical professionals, product manufacturers, property owners, assailants, or other third parties. Contact experienced NJ spinal cord injury attorneys at Eisbrouch Marsh for a free, no-obligation consultation at 201-342-5545. You pay nothing unless we take your case and win!


  1. Science Daily - Major discovery on spinal injury reveals unknown immune response
  2. Journal of Immunology- IL-4 production by t-cells: You need a little to get a lot