Blue Food Dye Treats Spine Injury in Rats

Researchers weren't looking for the effects of blue dye on spinal cord injuries, but there it is. What researcher were looking for was any chemical that was similar to the P2X7 receptor that blocks ATP, which causes inflammation of spinal cord injuries. FD&C blue dye No. 1 just happened to fit the description.
By lucky accident, researchers discovered that the commonly used food additive FD&C blue dye No. 1 is remarkably similar to a lab compound that blocks a key step in nerve inflammation. When rats with spinal cord injury were given an infusion of blue dye, they recovered much faster than rats that didn’t get the treatment. And researchers reported only one adverse effect: The rats turned blue.

“One of the reasons no one had done this before is that food science is very separate from neuroscience,” said neuroscientist Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Center, who co-authored the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. “Those two fields don’t interact at all.”

The only problem with further research is the funding. The blue dye is so common that no underwriting company is likely to reap a profit from any medical breakthroughs. Link

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Hey remember that industrial dye we add to all your food? Yeah well turns out it has unknown effects on your body but dont worry the effects are helpful. That makes me feel better..not.
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This story makes me think of Kevin Everett, the Buffalo Bills player who had the spinal injury on the field. His recovery was credited to a cold saline method that curbed the swelling of his spinal cord.

Wondering now if doctors will start using cold blue dye #1.
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It's unfortunate that commercial chemists and the pharmaceutical industry don't hang out more. The first synthetic antibiotics, Prontosil and the later sulfa drugs, were direct spinoffs of the German dye industry. The dyes were found to kill bacteria and quickly adapted to use in humans. And, of course, methylene blue started as a fabric dye too.

And, in fact, the early pharmaceutical industry faced the exact same problem when it came to making a profit. The basic chemicals used were off-patent and widely available from lots of sources for industrial use. So they turned to making all sorts of chemical variants and testing them all to find ones which worked better while minimizing the side effects. And which were salable. Profit's a good thing. Without it there have been no incentive to take the risk of turning red dye into medicine. (Check out "The Demon Under The Microscope" by Tom Hager for a good account of all this.)
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Did not sound right that
"What researcher were looking for was any chemical that was similar to the P2X7 receptor that blocks ATP".
Makes more sense if the chemical was similar to the MOLECULE that BINDS with the receptor.
But yeah, discovery seems cool.
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