Today, severe spinal cord injuries are incurable in humans.
The motion was restored in lab mice by a new injectable therapy that could potentially give rise to treatment for people who are paralyzed.
Possible Breakthrough Against Spinal Injury
Researchers report that chemical signals are produced by the therapy which contains liquid nanofibers that wrap around the damaged spinal cord and promote healing and reduce scarring.
Astonishing results were produced by mice in labs that had been paralyzed by injuries to the spinal cord.
Samuel Stupp, the founding director of the Simpson Querrey Institute in Evanston, Ill, said that they found that the paralysis had almost completely reversed within 3 or 4 weeks of the injection. He added that they were almost able to walk normally.
Stupp said that they planned on taking the findings to the FDA and applying for human clinical trials.
Movement could be restored in a person that is paralyzed by a spinal cord injury if the therapy is effective in humans. This has been a persistent medical challenge.
The researchers said that almost 300,000 Americans live with spinal cord injuries.
They also mentioned that lesser than 3% of those who had these injuries ever recovered basic physical functions.
Dr. Jeremy Steinberger said that surgeons do their best to stabilize the spine and repair damage around the spinal cord that is caused by a car crash, gunshot, explosion, sports accident, or some other traumatic event.
Right now, there is nothing that doctors can do that can directly improve the healing of the spinal cord.
Jeremy said that sometimes, despite a great surgery after damage, a scan can make things seem good, but the patient does not show any improvement.
The findings were reviewed by him.
As a surgeon, he said that it is very frustrating as they do everything in their power, but patients can still remain without control over their bladder, bowel, and paralyzed.
Stupp explained that the nanofibers in the liquid that is injected measure about 10 nanometers in diameter and it would be like dividing a human hair over 100,000 times.
Stupp continued that the tiny fibers that are in the liquid make a network of fibers as soon as they touch the living tissues of the cord once they are injected.
The natural environment that cells have in the spinal cord is mimicked by the mesh and it has the same architecture.
The researchers reported that the fibers then send signals to cells that promote the regen of nerves along with the growth of blood vessels.
In addition to this, they also send signals to other structures that are required to support spinal cord recovery.
In order to mimic the motion of natural chemicals in the body, the nanofiber mesh also vibrates.
This helps them to communicate better with cells and promotes healing.
Stupp said that they are remarkably effective as therapy if they are moving very quickly.
He said that the therapy is not as effective when the motions of the molecules are slowed down. He added that this has never been observed before.
He said that peptides make up the nanofibers. These peptides are the building blocks of proteins and without any significant side effects, they dissolve naturally within 12 weeks.
Stupp said that the therapy is very safe as it is made up of natural things. He added that the cells feed on the nutrients that it dissolves into.
The investigators, on examining the mice that had healed, found that there was the regeneration of the severed nerves. They also found that the natural insulation that protects these nerves had regenerated.
This research is clearly exciting.
With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.