Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Significant breakthrough in the treatment of spinal injuries.

A University of Cambridge team is close to a breakthrough treatment which could potentially allow damaged nerve fibers to regenerate within the spinal cord.

It may also encourage the remaining undamaged nerve fibers to work more effectively.

Spinal injuries are difficult to treat because the body cannot repair damage to the brain or spinal cord.

Although it is possible for nerves to regenerate, they are blocked by the scar tissue that forms at the site of the spinal injury.

The Cambridge team has identified a bacteria enzyme called chondroitinase which is capable of digesting molecules within scar tissue to allow some nerve fibers to regrow.

The enzyme also promotes nerve plasticity, which potentially means that remaining undamaged nerve fibers have an increased likelihood of making new connections that could bypass the area of damage.

In preliminary tests, the researchers have shown that combining chondroitinase with rehabilitation produces better results than using either technique alone.

Lead researcher Professor James Fawcett said:

'It is rare to find that a spinal cord is completely severed, generally there are still some nerve fibers that are undamaged.

Chondroitinase offers us hope in two ways; firstly it allows some nerve fibers to regenerate and secondly it enables other nerves to take on the role of those fibers that cannot be repaired.

Along with rehabilitation we are very hopeful that at last we may be able to offer paralyzed patients a treatment to improve their condition.

Dr Yolande Harley, of the charity Action Medical Research which funded the work, said:

'This is incredibly exciting, ground-breaking work, which will give new hope to people with recent spinal injuries.'

In the UK there are more than 40,000 people suffering from injuries to their spine, which can take the form of anything from loss of sensation to full paralysis.

How to Effectively Target Your Most Profitable Customers.

If you have that great and highly differentiated idea, then targeting your customers should your next step.

This exercise will also reveal if there is actually a market for your brainchild, whether a radically new gadget, originally themed book, or extraordinarily novel service.

However - and this is important to note - this is where many inventors/authors/marketers fail!

To be sure, attempting to be ‘all things to all people’ by marketing your product to all-and-sundry will lead to a diffused, and an often confused marketing campaign.

Instead, go out and discover the specific Demographic and Psychographic factors of your biggest market. Then market to that audience more than any other and as often as possible.

Demographics are the basic attributes and quantitative characteristics of your market: including the customer sector’s age, gender, profession, culture, employment, industry, income level, marital status, location, and so on.

Psychographics are made up of the emotional and behavioural qualities of your market: including the customer sector’s emotions, reasoning, history, psychology, and thought processes behind their decision to buy your product.

A demographic example might be the number of Workman between age 25 and 55 working in the City area runs to a population of 2,500. A survey shows that 40% of this group might buy a new pair of Work Boots every 9 months.

A psychographic example might be a young girl about town, choosing a new pair of shoes not because she necessarily needs them, but because she wants to look fashionable or sexy or/and in the crowd.

To gather the demographic numbers and psychographic priorities, conduct a survey, which is split into 2 sets of demographic and psychographic questions.

Demographic questions:

Who are your customers?
How many customers are there?
How many customer groups by gender, spending, profession, etc?
Where are each group?
What is the total value of each group?
What is the total volume of each group?
What is the largest customer group by value and volume?
How often do they purchase?
Where do they purchase your product?
Why would (or otherwise) your customers chose to buy yours over the competition?
Why would they buy from you at that specific point in time?

Psychographic questions:

What are your customers motives to buy?
Why do they need or want your product?
In fact, do they need or want your product at all?
What characteristics would they need or want in the product?
What, thus, characteristics need to designed into your product?
Why would your customers buy right away (on impulse) or take their time?
If they shopped around, why would they?
Where would they go and what can you learn?
What do they like the most and the least about the product?
Would they refer your product to others?
If not, why not?

My book Hyperinnovation (see near top side bar) goes into all this much further in part 5 of the book, with a systematic end-to-end methodology.