Ohio State spinal cord Injury study
Published: Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 01:06
To the Editor:
As the neurologist who delivered the Spinal Cord Injury Techniques course petitions to President Holbrook, I want to stress the urgency of replacing this class with humane and effective research methods.
Besides the obvious differences between human and rodent spines - our spines are vertical, theirs are horizontal; our spinal cords coordinate two-legged locomotion, theirs coordinate four-legged locomotion - there are profound differences at the molecular level, which is where spinal cord injury process and treatment effectiveness manifest. For example, mice, unlike humans, do not form a central cavity in their spinal cords after injury. And parts of the white matter of the human spinal cord alone are almost as large as the entire diameter of the rat spinal cord. The nature and extent of secondary injury, blood flow, and wound healing vary between species. Even small differences at this level can have an immense effect on whether a treatment works or not.
Using animals to "model" human spinal cord injuries is not only cruel, it's also ineffective and wasteful. Over forty years of these experiments have not yielded any effective treatments, and repeating these experiments over and over is not going to yield any new information. It will simply waste animal lives and precious research dollars. I encourage OSU to replace this course with the latest in modern and humane research methods, which promise real hope for people suffering from spinal cord injuries.
Aysha Akhtar, M.D., MPH Senior Medical and Research Advisor Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Washington, DC