Blog | Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blue M&Ms treat spinal cord injuries

Photo by the University of RochesterScientists at the University of Rochester suspect the blue dye used in M&Ms and Gatorade may interrupt the cell death that follows spinal cord injury.

Adenosine triphosphate floods the spinal cord after an injury, and spinal cord neurons carry a receptor that lets ATP latch on and die from metabolic stress, worsening paralysis. An agonist to this reaction is Brilliant Blue G, akin to FD&C blue dye No. 1.

So the researchers injected it in mice following spinal cord injury, which were able to limp again compared to controls, who never regained mobility, they reported. The mice did have to deal with a temporary blue tinge.

Because you can't inject a human who's just had a spinal injury, scientists are searching for a way to administer the dye into the body. I'd suggest orally, via a blue, sugary pill-like capsule that's available over the counter.