A drug which has yet to be named developed in Adelaide for the purpose to halt swelling of the brain after major trauma may promise hope to treating spinal injuries in the future.

The development of the drug for eight years has been led by Professor Robert Vink from Adelaide University who is also the head of Adelaide Centre for Neuroscience Research.

According to Prof Vink when a brain swells following a major trauma, there is a built-up of great pressure that will result in a blockage of blood flow to the area, cutting off the supply of oxygen and nutrients.

The same thing occurs during spinal cord injury whereby the swelling is responsible for cutting of the flow of oxygen and nutrients leading to a far worse condition.

Prof Vink said the drug functions to stop swelling and they are confident it would work the same way for spinal injuries.

The drug which is yet to be tested is estimated to require a testing program that will cost about $5 million.

The lives of many people affected with spinal injuries will be changed, said Prof Vink, if the spinal injury model is a success.

His team never planned for the drug to be used for spinal injury, but after Neil Sachse Foundation - founded by Neil Sachse, former football champion who is a quadriplegic following a sporting injury -approached Prof Vink with the idea was the potential use considered.

Jay Richards, general manager of the Neil Sachse Foundation said if the drug worked on spinal injury models, the significant impact it holds for the people from all over the world would be immeasurable.

Mr Richards said, You can't measure the impact of this drug could have on the individual.

We're talking about the opportunity to keep someone out of a chair, rather than a lifetime of paralysis. The benefit of that for the individual, their family, their community - you can't put a price on it.

Australia spends an annual cost of nearly $1 billion for spinal injury care and each year there are as many as 400 cases of significant spinal injury across the nation.