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New hope for nerve regeneration Special

By Jane Fazackarley     Sep 22, 2010 in Health
Researchers from UC Irvine, UC San Diego and Harvard have made a breakthrough in nerve regeneration following a spinal cord injury. The researchers were able to regenerate nerve connections that are responsible for voluntary movement.
The research has so far only been carried out on mice but there could be new potential for the treatment of paralysis and a range of other motor impairments, the findings of the study show.
Scientists found that by deleting an enzyme from the brain that controls nerve regeneration following a spinal cord injury, nerve connections were able to regenerate.
According to the OC Register, Oswald Stewart, director of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center and a co-author of the report, said:
“By deleting this molecular break, it turns back the clock."
“So the nerve cells in the brain are kind of young again.”
It was two years before the scientists were able to achieve the results in the rodents. The next stage will be to find out if it is possible to restore limb function in the mice.
Dr. Donald Corenman, M.D, D.C, is a leading orthopedic spine surgeon at The Steadman Clinic, in Vail, CO. He explained more about nerve regeneration and spinal cord injuries:
“Regeneration of tissue occurs all the time. The skin turns over every fifteen days and the intestinal tract turns over almost daily. The central nervous system does not turn over much as repair of these cells would make new connections which could change how the brain works and even "thinks".
“This protection of the brain by limiting the repair processes also has its downsides. Repair of damage to the spinal cord and the brain is inadequate. If we could change this prevention of healing by turning off the limiting genes, this might allow the nerves to regenerate. This discovery could be the first step in this process.”
“My experience with cord injuries and regeneration is the clinical treatment of cord injuries with surgery and rehab. This is an interesting new development but you have to understand that this is the very beginning of the possible development of a new tool. Getting the nerves to grow in the spinal cord where they are packed as tight as possible may lead to some recovery but also may lead to connections that are unorganized, non-useful and possibly deleterious. It probably won't hurt in a patient who is totally paralyzed as there is no penalty if it does not work. One of the questions is; if this even works- will the nerve be able to reconnect with its severed end or will it connect with something else? There is a complex "dance" of biology that goes into healing and the entire cascade needs to be known. This is the first possible step.”
You can find out more about the work of Dr. Corenman at www.neckandback.com
Statistics from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation website show that six million people have some form of paralysis. This is equal to around one in every fifty.
According to the OC Register website, Oswald Steward said:
“This is totally new,”
“Everybody we talked to says this is just really unprecedented as far as the kind of growth that we’re seeing. People have been working on trying to regenerate this pathway for spinal cord injury literally for 100 years. This is the first time there’s been significant success in getting these connections to regrow.”
More about Nerve, Regeneration, Spinal cord injuries, Harvard
 
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