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Medicine Science

Dye Used In Blue M&Ms Can Lessen Spinal Injury 324

SydShamino writes "Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center have found that the dye used in blue M&Ms and other foods can, when given intravenously to a lab rat shortly after a spinal injury, minimize secondary damage caused by the body when it kills off nearby healthy cells. The dye is called BBG or Brilliant Blue G. Given that 85% of spinal injury patients are currently untreated (and some doctors don't trust the treatment given to the other 15%), a relatively safe treatment like this could help preserve some function for thousands of patients. The best part is that in lab rats the subjects given the treatment turn blue." The researchers are "pulling together an application to be lodged with the FDA to stage the first clinical trials of BBG on human patients."
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Dye Used In Blue M&Ms Can Lessen Spinal Injury

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  • Blue red (Score:3, Informative)

    by greg1104 (461138) <> on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @01:38PM (#28856395) Homepage

    Glad to see the blue M&Ms won't be going the way the red ones [] did in 1976 [].

  • by yincrash (854885) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @01:40PM (#28856457)
    nat geo [] posted an article. basically, the blue dye helps prevent the initial swelling which compresses spinal cord tissue to the point of tissue death. less tissue death = better recovery.
  • How about yellow? (Score:2, Informative)

    by DoktorSeven (628331) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @01:42PM (#28856509) Homepage Journal

    Now can we really make M&Ms (and tons of other foods) better by getting rid of the awful yellow dye garbage (tartrazine)? It's been shown to affect tons of people negatively and some even link it to childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder and hyperactivity.

    Seriously, we can do without yellow foods or find something much safer, can't we? Why do we continue to put use this as a food dye when there are so many issues with it?

    It's a real pain in the ass to analyze ingredient lists of every single thing I buy to make sure it doesn't have that in it, and it's in very non-obvious things as well (things that don't even look that yellow). Plus they don't draw attention to it like other food allergies, it's just hidden near the bottom of ingredient lists. And I'm sure I've accidentally had it at restaurants causing me to feel like crap and get headaches and feel sick afterwards.

    Ban tartrazine.

  • Re:Sound Methods? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @01:48PM (#28856635)
    That's probably better than actual conditions for lab rats.

    How do you think they determine what dose kills you? They inject 200 rats with an overdose of, say, acetaminophen, and wait for horrifyingly painful liver failure. I guess it's better than testing it on humans though.
  • by VxMorpheusxV (817585) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @01:54PM (#28856749)
    That is the nature of research with animals. There is regulation (here in the U.S) that attempts to minimize pain when possible and guidelines that must be followed to acquire animals for research, but there has been substantial progress made through animal research. If you've got a viable alternative I'm sure it would be considered. Take a look at the wiki [] page for more info.
  • Re:Sound Methods? (Score:3, Informative)

    by petehead (1041740) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @02:09PM (#28856981)
    The Wired article [] notes that they dropped a 10 gram weight onto the backs of the mice while the mice were under anesthesia (it doesn't specify if the weight was made by ACME).
  • by Lordplatypus (731338) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:14PM (#28858133)
    As someone who has permanent nerve damage in my back that makes me unable to feel my legs below the knee I can tell you exactly what several doctors have told me.

    "At least you can walk." "Let me know if it gets worse."

    Consider hiring people to clean your gutters or hang your Christmas lights.
  • by Carnildo (712617) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:23PM (#28858297) Homepage Journal

    We can fix the mechanical damage to the bones and ligaments, but the current best-practice treatment for the nerve damage consists of waiting to see how bad it is, followed by physical therapy. After hundreds of years of research, we haven't found anything more effective, which is what makes this such big news.

  • by InverseParadox (189133) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:24PM (#28858319)

    According to TFA, the blue tint disappeared within a week, and the regained mobility didn't manifest till the sixth week (at which point they killed the rat to dissect it) - so I doubt that this will be a long-term problem.

    They did mention that they were surprised, upon dissection, to find out that the spinal cord was still blue even at the six-week mark. I imagine that even that would go away with time, though.

  • Re:Sound Methods? (Score:3, Informative)

    by linzeal (197905) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @03:38PM (#28858547) Homepage Journal
    As far as I know almost all organic labels make no mention of killing "critters" with guns. Almost all farmers out here shoot deer, rabbits and the like so vegans indirectly contribute to untold numbers of animal deaths.
  • Re:Sound Methods? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Turiko (1259966) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:40PM (#28859477)
    erm... once the cure is there, it's there forever. Sooner or later, the ratio of 1-1 WILL be overtaken.
  • Re:Sound Methods? (Score:3, Informative)

    by EtherMonkey (705611) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @04:52PM (#28859617)

    I draw the line at complete rat genocide.* After all, you've got to leave at least one breeding pair so you can restock for the next round of experiments.

    Have you ever owned or bread rats? 3 weeks gestation, litter size of 6 to 16, sexual maturity after 90 days... it doesn't take long to be completely overwhelmed. I tried it once as an alternative to driving 45 minutes to a pet store to feed my 10-ft python. It only took me a few months to give up.

  • Re:Sound Methods? (Score:2, Informative)

    by rubi (910818) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @07:23PM (#28860883)
    And how many "human test subjects" would volunteer and how many would be mandated to do it? Better test in rats and such than MAKE humans do it; the pool of volunteers is really small.
  • Re:Sound Methods? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @02:33AM (#28863215)

    I'm sure you missed it, but what he's referring to is the fact that it's much more likely for vegans to blabber on about animal rights and how experimentation is torturous and unethical. Yet somehow accidentally shredding the same amount of cute fuzzies is just part of the magical cycle of life.

  • Re:Sound Methods? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jedi Alec (258881) on Wednesday July 29, 2009 @04:33AM (#28863771)

    Tell me how animal fighting is illegal, but underground fighting is not (only the gambling is).

    If you don't understand the difference between two consenting adults getting into a ring and beating the crap out of each other or 2 animals being driven into a fury and then placed in a small enclosement I very much doubt you'll be able to grasp any answer you'll get.

My sister opened a computer store in Hawaii. She sells C shells down by the seashore.