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article imageRats with spinal injuries learn to urinate freely

By Tim Sandle     Dec 29, 2014 in Science
Baltimore - Rats, in a new study, regained bladder control following a new treatment that coaxed severed nerves to grow back. It is hoped that the research can be applied to humans.
The loss of bladder function is one of the most serious problems afflicting people with severe spinal cord injury. With such injuries, bladders cease to work properly because motor signals from the brain stem, where instructions for urination are located, become disrupted. For these reasons, research into finding ways for people to regain bladder function has received scientific attention. This month, U.S. scientists have reported some success in relation to this area.
The new study was the first to pioneer the regeneration of nerves that restore bladder function in animals with severely injured spinal cords. With the research, scientists regenerated nerves across a tint gap of only 5 millimetres, using a three-step process. These steps were:
First the researchers bridged the gap with healthy nerves taken from around the animals’ ribs, this was to avoid tissue rejection.
Secondly, the researchers applied a chemical called fibroblast growth factor to help the nerve grafts integrate and align to tissue at the injury site.
Finally the scientists delivered an enzyme, called chondroitinase, to limit scarring, which blocked nerve regeneration.
With the study, instead of simply dribbling out urine, the rodents produced copious amounts of pee at a level similar to healthy rats, according to a report for Science for Students. The pressure in their bladders indicated that they had regained two-thirds of their bladder function.
The study was led by Dr. Jerry Silver. The findings have been published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The paper is titled “Nerve Regeneration Restores Supraspinal Control of Bladder Function after Complete Spinal Cord Injury.”
The next step is to apply the treatment for people with spinal cord injuries.
More about Rats, Paralysis, Paralyzed, Urine, Urinate
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