In Search of the Lost Cord: Solving the Mystery of Spinal Cord Regeneration

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9780309074377: In Search of the Lost Cord: Solving the Mystery of Spinal Cord Regeneration

In Search of the Lost Cord is a scientific detective story, the stuff of science fiction en route to science fact. People trapped by the limitation of paralyzed limbs, rendered useless by devastating, catastrophic injuries to their spinal cords, may one day walk again. If the research is successful . . . if the scientists hit on the right strategy for approaching the problem, we may yet see miracles happen.

In her new book, science journalist Luba Vikhanski profiles the rapidly developing field of spinal cord injury research. She explains the field’s greatest scientific challenges and introduces us to the pioneers who are working toward what would be a startling breakthrough. Perhaps the most riveting aspect of this international effort is the fact that each of these scientists is approaching the problem in very different ways. In the worldwide race to claim the prize of a cure, we witness a drama in the making.

Who will cross the finish line first? Will it be the Swiss scientist Martin Schwab, who has actually managed to heal spinal cords in rats and has restored their ability to walk? Will it be Wise Young, a Rutgers scientist who is pinning his research hopes on drug therapies? Or could Lars Olson of the Swedish Karolinska Institute hold the key to success in his efforts to construct a bridge of slender nerve filaments to connect a once-severed spinal cord? His rats are already flexing their legs.

These scientists, and others with unique and creative approaches of their own, have dared to tackle this seemingly unsolvable problem of spinal cord regeneration. Like all major medical and scientific breakthroughs, the “Eureka” moment often seems obvious in hindsight. Perhaps we’ll have the same perspective when the puzzle of spinal cord regeneration is solved and the nerves are indeed healed. Until that time, there’s a race to the finish line, and suspense is building. In Search of the Lost Cord is a trackside seat.

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Late on a June afternoon in 2000, Roy Holley rounded the bend of a twisting Rocky Mountain road to discover the crumpled remains of his daughter’s car. He was to learn that 18-year old Melissa had suffered a crushing injury to her spinal cord, leaving her completely paralyzed and without sensation below her mid-chest line.

A year later, a team of doctors made a stunning announcement.

An experimental procedure involving the injection of immune-system cells directly into Melissa Holley’s crushed spinal cord resulted in the recovery of movement in her toes and legs. Although Melissa isn’t walking yet, there is now hope that she may indeed rebound from an injury so devastating that her doctors had ruled conclusively that the destruction of her spinal cord was “complete”—a verdict that has historically left its victims paralyzed for life.

In Search of the Lost Cord is award-winning science writer Luba Vikhanski’s fascinating chronicle of the quest for such a cure. The author takes the reader on a journey around the world to laboratories in Spain, Sweden, Israel, Canada, and the United States, where talented researchers have defied the odds and tirelessly pursued the regeneration of the spinal cord. For decades career-minded scientists have avoided this field entirely because the goals were considered so hopeless. Yet Vikhanski—in gripping prose that brings life to both the science and the scientists’ struggle—shows how a small number of dedicated individuals learned from each other’s successes and failures to finally make hope real. The resulting international effort to restore function to the severely injured spinal cord is on the verge of a breakthrough.

Some day, and perhaps not so long from now, Melissa Holley, and others like her, may walk again. In Search of the Lost Cord is the remarkable and compelling story of science history in the making.

"I was moved by the heartrending stories of those who have been injured, everyday heroes who somehow find the strength to persevere in spite of overwhelming obstacles, and the Melissa Holleys who volunteer to be test cases for scientists who are racing to find a cure. Add to that the easy-to-understand explanations of the science behind the research, this book is a winner." Karrie Webb LPGA’s 2000 Player of the Year and Co-Host of the Karrie Webb Celebrity Pro-Am Tournament to benefit the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation

“In Search of the Lost Cord book captures the excitement about the field of spinal cord regeneration. The historical anecdotes make the description of the entire research effort more human and more understandable. They also make clear how the pace of research has accelerated and why there are so many reasons to hope for what seemed impossible only a few years ago.” Gerald D. Fischbach Dean, Faculty of Medicine Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

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Book Description National Academies Press, United States, 2001. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In Search of the Lost Cord is a scientific detective story, the stuff of science fiction en route to science fact. People trapped by the limitation of paralyzed limbs, rendered useless by devastating, catastrophic injuries to their spinal cords, may one day walk again. If the research is successful .if the scientists hit on the right strategy for approaching the problem, we may yet see miracles happen. In her new book, science journalist Luba Vikhanski profiles the rapidly developing field of spinal cord injury research. She explains the field s greatest scientific challenges and introduces us to the pioneers who are working toward what would be a startling breakthrough. Perhaps the most riveting aspect of this international effort is the fact that each of these scientists is approaching the problem in very different ways. In the worldwide race to claim the prize of a cure, we witness a drama in the making. Who will cross the finish line first? Will it be the Swiss scientist Martin Schwab, who has actually managed to heal spinal cords in rats and has restored their ability to walk? Will it be Wise Young, a Rutgers scientist who is pinning his research hopes on drug therapies? Or could Lars Olson of the Swedish Karolinska Institute hold the key to success in his efforts to construct a bridge of slender nerve filaments to connect a once-severed spinal cord? His rats are already flexing their legs. These scientists, and others with unique and creative approaches of their own, have dared to tackle this seemingly unsolvable problem of spinal cord regeneration. Like all major medical and scientific breakthroughs, the Eureka moment often seems obvious in hindsight. Perhaps we ll have the same perspective when the puzzle of spinal cord regeneration is solved and the nerves are indeed healed. Until that time, there s a race to the finish line, and suspense is building. In Search of the Lost Cord is a trackside seat. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780309074377

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Book Description National Academies Press, United States, 2001. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In Search of the Lost Cord is a scientific detective story, the stuff of science fiction en route to science fact. People trapped by the limitation of paralyzed limbs, rendered useless by devastating, catastrophic injuries to their spinal cords, may one day walk again. If the research is successful .if the scientists hit on the right strategy for approaching the problem, we may yet see miracles happen. In her new book, science journalist Luba Vikhanski profiles the rapidly developing field of spinal cord injury research. She explains the field s greatest scientific challenges and introduces us to the pioneers who are working toward what would be a startling breakthrough. Perhaps the most riveting aspect of this international effort is the fact that each of these scientists is approaching the problem in very different ways. In the worldwide race to claim the prize of a cure, we witness a drama in the making. Who will cross the finish line first? Will it be the Swiss scientist Martin Schwab, who has actually managed to heal spinal cords in rats and has restored their ability to walk? Will it be Wise Young, a Rutgers scientist who is pinning his research hopes on drug therapies? Or could Lars Olson of the Swedish Karolinska Institute hold the key to success in his efforts to construct a bridge of slender nerve filaments to connect a once-severed spinal cord? His rats are already flexing their legs. These scientists, and others with unique and creative approaches of their own, have dared to tackle this seemingly unsolvable problem of spinal cord regeneration. Like all major medical and scientific breakthroughs, the Eureka moment often seems obvious in hindsight. Perhaps we ll have the same perspective when the puzzle of spinal cord regeneration is solved and the nerves are indeed healed. Until that time, there s a race to the finish line, and suspense is building. In Search of the Lost Cord is a trackside seat. Bookseller Inventory # FLT9780309074377

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