Neuromuscular disorders such as brachial plexus injury or cerebral palsy affect 1 in 200 newborns in Ohio, and understanding how to treat muscle contractures is a critical element in addressing the resulting disabilities of these diseases. If an infant is born with brachial plexus or cerebral palsy, muscle contractures can disrupt skeletal growth, and surgery and other treatments are often required. However, bortezomib, a new drug typically used for adult chemotherapy, has reportedly been used and provided positive results in mice.
Bortezomib re-balances disrupted muscle growth-inhibiting muscle contractures. The contractures are often painful and can lead to paralysis of an entire limb. Between childbirth brachial plexus injury and cerebral palsy, these conditions make up the majority of childhood paralysis cases. It has been found that when nerve signaling in early muscle development is compromised, the paralyzed muscles cannot grow to a normal length, causing contractures.
While it was first hypothesized that healthy growth in the muscles was due to stem cell activity, it was later determined to be due to a balance between the creation and breakdown of proteins in the muscles. Bortezomib inhibits protein breakdown and has been used to re-balance the muscle growth in mice soon after birth. The potential toxicity of bortezomib makes its use in children uncertain. However, since it is already FDA approved for the treatment of cancer in adults, there is a precedence of using the drug in a human population.
If an individual is suffering from contractures due to a neuromuscular disorder as a result of a preventable birth injury, the affected party may be entitled to compensation. In birth injuries when a newborn is the affected party, the guardian may be entitled to damages. An experienced attorney in medical malpractice may be able to aid in drafting a legal complaint for monetary damages.