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In Search Of The Lost Cord: Solving The Mystery Of Spinal Cord Regeneration

by Luba Vikhanski

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From Library Journal
People with spinal cord injuries caused by car accidents and other traumatic events have generally been considered hopeless cases destined to a life of paralysis. But in recent years, there have been dramatic advances in spinal cord regeneration research. Medical journalist Vikhanski (An Informed Patient's Guide to Breast Surgery) presents a history of this research and provides insight into current developments that may offer the paralyzed hope for the future. New treatments on the horizon include an immune therapy procedure that has been tested in Israel with human subjects and possibilities for mechanical neural prostheses. Vikhanski's writing is a little dry and perhaps too scientific for some general readers, but interested parties will have no problem keeping up. Including a helpful appendix of scientific terms, this is recommended for consumer health collections, rehabilitation hospitals, and large academic and public libraries. Elizabeth Williams, Fresno City Coll. Lib., CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Library Journal
"Vikhanski provides insight into current developments that may offer the paralyzed hope...interested parties will have no problem keeping up."

Nature Medicine, December 2001
"...a gripping 200-page cliffhanger that is enjoyable and informative for scientists, clinicians, and the public...both educational and captivating."

"This little-known saga of scientific achievement has been splendidly chronicled... reads like a scientific detective story or science fiction..."

Science Books & Films, November/December 2002
"Readers will be rewarded by a fascinating story..."

Book Description
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.

Book Info
Discusses the field of spinal cord regeneration and uses historical anecdotes to make the description of the research effort more human and understandable. For anyone interested in the subject. DNLM: Spinal Cord Injuries--rehabilitation.

From the Inside Flap
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

About the Author
Luba Vikhanski is a science journalist who specializes in covering biomedical research. She is the author of A Well-Informed Patient's Guide to Breast Surgery, which won the 1993 Rose Kushner Award of the American Medical Writers Association. A graduate of New York University's Science and Environmental Reporting Program in 1989, she was a medical reporter in Manhattan for several years. Now living in Israel, she works in the publications department of the Weizmann Institute of Science. During her two years researching the subject of spinal cord repair, Vikhanski attended numerous neuroscience conferences and interviewed more than 150 scientists, researchers, advocates, and people with spinal cord injuries in eight countries.



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