In Search of the Lost Cord is a scientific detective story, the stuff of science fiction en route to science fact. People trapped by the limitation of paralyzed limbs, rendered useless by devastating, catastrophic injuries to their spinal cords, may one day walk again. If the research is successful . . . if the scientists hit on the right strategy for approaching the problem, we may yet see miracles happen.
In her new book, science journalist Luba Vikhanski profiles the rapidly developing field of spinal cord injury research. She explains the field s greatest scientific challenges and introduces us to the pioneers who are working toward what would be a startling breakthrough. Perhaps the most riveting aspect of this international effort is the fact that each of these scientists is approaching the problem in very different ways. In the worldwide race to claim the prize of a cure, we witness a drama in the making.
Who will cross the finish line first? Will it be the Swiss scientist Martin Schwab, who has actually managed to heal spinal cords in rats and has restored their ability to walk? Will it be Wise Young, a Rutgers scientist who is pinning his research hopes on drug therapies? Or could Lars Olson of the Swedish Karolinska Institute hold the key to success in his efforts to construct a bridge of slender nerve filaments to connect a once-severed spinal cord? His rats are already flexing their legs.
These scientists, and others with unique and creative approaches of their own, have dared to tackle this seemingly unsolvable problem of spinal cord regeneration. Like all major medical and scientific breakthroughs, the Eureka moment often seems obvious in hindsight. Perhaps we ll have the same perspective when the puzzle of spinal cord regeneration is solved and the nerves are indeed healed. Until that time, there s a race to the finish line, and suspense is building. In Search of the Lost Cord is a trackside seat.
National Research Council. In Search of the Lost Cord: Solving the Mystery of Spinal Cord Regeneration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2001.
Import this citation to:
"This book is as poignant as it is exciting. I enthusiastically applaud the efforts of all the talented -- and tenacious -- scientists who have spent years searching for a cure for spinal cord injuries. In Search of the Lost Cord is their story. And what an incredible story it is."
-- Christopher Reeve
"...a gripping 200-page cliffhanger that is enjoyable and informative for scientists, clinicians, and the public alike. ...no one will waste an afternoon reading this book. ...The Lost Cord is both educational and captivating."
-- Nature Medicine, December 2001
"...an unusually well-written story... Vikhanski has put a human face on this research. Having interviewed many experts, she spins a particularly engaging yarn. I cannot remember enjoying a book like this more. ...I recommend this book most enthusiastically to everyone interested in the exciting saga of neuroregeneration in spinal cord injury research."
-- The Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, Summer 2002
"...fascinating reading... Patients with SCI, and nurses, will have increased hope after reading this book that one day in the near future there will be a cure for SCI. I highly recommend reading this book so everyone is aware of how much research is actually being conducted to find a cure."
-- SCI Nursing, Spring 2003
"Readers will be rewarded by a fascinating story, learning not just about spinal cord medicine, but also how the 'real' world of biomedical research differs from the hype often portrayed by medical journalism."
-- Science Books & Films, November/December 2002
"In her book, Vikhanski sensitively traces the progress of patients, scientists and research teams around the world... She balances technical medical terminology with gripping, and touching, accounts of the progress of individual patients. There are also intriguing, close-up and colourful descriptions of the scientists and doctors working to change the course of medical history."
-- The Jewish Chronicle, May 24, 2002
"This little-known saga of scientific achievement has been splendidly chronicled by Luba Vikhanski... it reads like a scientific detective story or science fiction..."
-- The Jerusalem Post, March 3, 2002
"...a good read... a fascinating story and a good book..."
-- doctors.net, 2002
"Her exhaustive interviews delve deep..."
-- Science News, February 16, 2002
"I was moved by the heartrending stories of those who have been injured: everyday heroes who find the strength to persevere in spite of overwhelming obstacles, the Melissa Holleys who volunteer to be test cases for scientists who are racing to find a cure. Add to that the easy-to-understand science behind the research, this book is a winner."
-- Karrie Webb, LPGA Tour golfer
"In Search of the Lost Cord is a great motivator for people with spinal cord injuries. It gives us hope that a cure may be on the horizon, but we need to be ready -- and in shape -- to embrace these new technologies. We must be prepared to take on the challenge of whatever needs to be done. Let this book be your inspiration."
-- Mike Utley, former Detroit Lions offensive guard
"This engaging book captures the excitement about the field of spinal cord regeneration. The finely-drawn historical anecdotes make the description of the entire research effort more human and more understandable. They also make clear how the pace of research has accelerated and why there are so many reasons to hope for what seemed impossible only a few years ago."
-- Gerald D. Fischbach, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
"Vikhanski presents a history of [spinal cord regeneration] research and provides insight into current developments that may offer the paralyzed hope for the future ...interested parties will have no problem keeping up."
-- Library Journal, October 2001