Humans can regenerate their peripheral nerves (PNS), but the regenerative ability does not extend to the central nervous system (CNS). So, what changed? Previously, the focus had been on identifying the cellular and molecular contributors that differentiate this regenerative ability in CNS vs. PNS. But now there seems to be a shift towards recognizing the underlying genetic makeup differences between the two.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified some of the critical steps taken by peripheral nerves – those in the arms and legs – as they regenerate.
Case Western Reserve Researchers Restore Breathing and Partial Forelimb Function in Rats with Chronic...
Promising results provide hope for humans suffering from chronic paralysis
Millions of people worldwide are living with chronic spinal cord injuries, with 250,000 to 500,000 new cases each year—most from vehicle crashes or falls. The most severe spinal cord injuries completely paralyze their victims and more than half impair a person’s ability to breathe. Now, a breakthrough study published in Nature Communications has demonstrated, in animal models of chronic injury, that long-term, devastating effects of spinal cord trauma on breathing and limb function may be reversible.
Researchers at King’s College London and the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience have shown that rats with spinal cord injuries can re-learn skilled hand movements after being treated with a gene therapy.
There is currently no cure for spinal cord injury or treatment to help nerve regeneration so therapies offering intervention are limited. People with severe spinal cord injuries can remain paralysed for life and this is often accompanied by incontinence.
A team led by Drs Liang-Fong Wong and Nicolas Granger from Bristol’s Faculty of Health Sciences has successfully transplanted genetically modified cells that secrete a treatment molecule shown to be effective at removing the scar following spinal cord damage. The scar in the damaged spinal cord typically limits recovery by blocking nerve regrowth.
There are many challenges facing people with spinal cord injury – and walking again is often the least of their problems. Cambridge research could help patients take control of their lives once more.
Spinal cord injury is, in many respects, a testosterone disease, says Professor James Fawcett.
What he means by this is that four out of five spinal cord injuries happen to men, and the most common age group is early adulthood. “Men are not good at assessing risk at that age,” he says. “Females are much more sensible.”
“Chondroitinase improves the outcome after spinal cord injuries in lab animals; therefore it could also benefit dogs and people suffering from the same conditions.”
The purpose of our clinical trial is to help these severely affected dogs by testing if a new treatment, called chondroitinase, may improve the outcome after spinal cord injury in dogs.
“Spinal cord injuries can lead to serious consequences including the impairment of movement, sensation and urination; this is because spinal cord tissue does not regenerate effectively”