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."
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
- 5 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...
£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you looking for work in Ed...
£3000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wor...
£83 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you looking for work in Ed...