Tag: Gene Therapy
Spinal cord injury (SCI) commonly results in paralysis from the injury site down, even when the spinal cord hasn’t been severed completely. The remaining nerve cells that might bridge the gap appear to switch off, resulting in total loss of muscle control and sensation. Scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital have now identified a small molecule drug that effectively reactivates the signaling pathways between these remaining nerve cells and the brain, restoring walking ability in mice that had been paralyzed by SCI.
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.
MAYWOOD, IL – Paralysis is just one of the many serious health problems faced by patients who suffer spinal cord injuries.
Spinal cord patients also are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease; pneumonia; life-threatening blood clots; bladder, bowel and sexual dysfunction; constipation and other gastrointestinal problems; pressure ulcers; and chronic pain, according to a report published in the journal Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports.
A new gene therapy that may restore some movement function to people with recent spinal cord injuries is the focus for spinal cord injury researcher, Jarred Griffin.
The new technique involves using gene therapy technology to insert genes into damaged spinal cord tissue to allow the motor neurons to potentially regrow and restore function.
It’s very early days in the development of the technology, says Jarred, (25) who is a doctoral student in the Centre for Brain Research at the University of Auckland, working with a team of researchers to pioneer the gene therapy.
Snakes owe their long and slithery bodies to “junk DNA,” large chunks of the reptile’s genome that scientists once thought to be useless. The gene called Oct4 may eventually help treat people with spinal injuries.
Oct4 is responsible for regulating stem cells and affects the growth of the trunk in the middle part of a vertebrate’s body.
Study researcher Rita Aires, from Portugal’s Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciencia (IGC), explained that genes involved in the formation of the trunk have to stop their activities so that the genes that are involved in tail formation can begin their work.
On April 2, The Journal of Neuroscience published a study on the use of a single administration of a gene-therapy targeting scar tissue at the site of a spinal cord injury in rats. The gene therapy helped nerve cells survive, and improved function of the affected hind limbs over the course of weeks, raising the possibility that the therapy might be useful to treat humans with spinal cord injuries.
Spinal cord injury is one of the most intractable medical problems, affecting, as it does, the main conduit for sensory and motor information from the brain to the body and back. When the spinal cord is injured, scar tissue forms, inhibiting re-growth of the axonal processes that make up the nerve cord.