Progress in treatment of spine injuries
Monday 03 August 2009
Scientists have taken a major step towards repairing severed spinal cords after discovering a way to make sure nerves "rewire" themselves correctly.
Back and neck injuries often result in paralysis because, unlike peripheral nerves, the "wires" of the spinal cord do not naturally mend themselves. Researchers have now shown that if they are attached to the right places the severed wires, or axons, will regenerate.
Scientists conducting the research at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), showed that by using a biological chemical, the nerve's fibres could be guided to their correct targets. The chemical, neurotrophin-3 (NT-3), not only steered the "wires" the right way but also supported the formation of synapses, which are nerve connection points.
Two other treatments were needed at the same time – a cell "bridge" placed across the spinal cord injury site, and a "conditioning" stimulus to turn on the body's regenerative genes. But if the chemical was not located precisely enough, the nerve fibres grew into the wrong region.
A paper about the research was published yesterday in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Despite overcoming a huge hurdle, the team still need to work out how to create electrically active and functioning spinal-cord connections.
Professor Mark Tuszynski, director of the Centre for Neural Repair at UC San Diego, said: "While our findings are very encouraging... they also highlight the complexity of restoring function in the injured spinal cord."
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
Amber Peat: Body found in search for missing 13-year-old who left house after argument with her parents
School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
Isis executes three gay men by dangling them from top of 100ft building and letting go
Alton Towers crash: Four guests seriously injured as Smiler ride carriages collide
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...
£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...