here may be a magic pill for spine injuries—the blue M&M, said Britain's Daily Mail. "Scientists have found that the food dye that gives the sweet its distinctive tint could help patients" with paralysis from spinal cord damage. When injected in rats with broken backs, the compound, Brilliant Blue G, blocked a chemical that makes injuries worse by causing inflammation and destroying cells.
The dye is obviously safe—it's used in everything from blue M&Ms to blue Gatorade, said Megan Johnson and Lindsay Lyon in U.S. News & World Report. But "before envisioning a day when paramedics drip blue food coloring through IVs at the scene of an accident, consider that what works in rats may not pan out in people." Researchers are far from proving the treatment will work in humans. And, "another caveat: The dye-treated rats temporarily turned a bit, well, blue."
If turning blue is the only side effect, said Christine Dell'Amore in National Geographic, blue dye could be "a boon to paralyzed humans down the road." The secondary inflammation the food coloring relieves is what causes much of the damage from spinal cord injuries, because the swelling "stops blood flow and eventually kills off the surrounding tissue." So if an immediate injection helped an injured rat "to take clumsy steps" after a few weeks, maybe there's hope for newly injured people.
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