A future cure for paralysis? Scientists discover way to repair damaged spinal nerve axon fibers that don’t regenerate naturally
- Scientists have discovered a molecule that can repair damage to the spine after a serious injury
- Called TTK21, it can stimulate the repair of axons lacking regenerative capabilities, opening the door to recovery of motor function.
- However, the mice on which the molecule was tested did not regain the ability to walk, so treatment only began to cure the paralysis.
- The molecule previously showed success in healing axons in the spine when applied right after a severe spinal injury.
Scientists have found a way to repair damaged fibers in the spine that fail to repair after a major injury, which could be an important step in reversing some forms of paralysis.
A team at Imperial College London in England was able to stimulate the regeneration of axon fibers in the spinal column of mice three months after they had suffered a devastating spinal injury that left them unable to walk. These fibers have no regenerative properties or will
Although the mice did not regain their ability to walk, this is the first time doctors have been able to repair these fibers in the spine, opening the door to further research into repairing the damage caused by spinal cord injury ( SCI).
An estimated 300,000 Americans suffer from LM, with about 18,000 cases reported each year. Although physical therapy and other forms of treatment can help a person slowly regain some function, there are no reliable ways to repair a damaged spine and cure a person’s MS-related paralysis.
The researchers found that the TTK21 molecule could repair spinal axons, which do not usually regenerate after severe spinal injury. Mice included in the study that saw their spines regenerate did not regain the ability to walk, but (file photo)
In a study published in PLOS on Tuesday, researchers tested whether the molecule TTK21 could be used to trigger axon regeneration in mice suffering from SCI.
In previous studies, the researchers found that the molecule would do the trick if applied shortly after injury, but there was no existing data on whether it would be effective for chronic LM.
Each of the mice was treated for ten weeks, half with TTK21 and the others with a control treatment.
After the treatment was completed, the researchers found that new axons were sprouting in the spinal cord.
Axons are fibers that carry signals and impulses between nerve cells.
When it is damaged, the body can no longer send signals from the brain through the nervous system, making motor functions impossible.
Spinal cord injury can be devastating and cause a permanent loss of movement in the limbs
Spinal cord injury (SCI) can be devastating and often occurs as a result of a traumatic injury.
There is no direct cure for MS, but physical therapy can help a person slowly regain their motor function
There are two main forms of paralysis caused by SCI, tetraplegia and paraplegia
A quadriplegic suffers from damage to his four limbs and many of his organs. Paralysis affects almost the entire body
Paraplegics suffer damage below their limbs and often lose motor function in their legs
About 300,000 Americans suffer from LM, and about 17,000 more suffer a devastating injury each year.
Source: Mayo Clinic and The Miami Project
They do not repair themselves when damaged, causing damage to the nervous system, and specifically to the spinal cord where many nerves are linked to the brain, both permanent and devastating.
Axons that were affected by the injury also stopped retraction, and sensory axon growth also increased among the treated mice.
Unfortunately, despite axon growth, the paralyzed mice did not regain the ability to walk and showed no real improvements in motor function.
Researchers still hope that TTK21 can serve as a basis for the treatment of paralysis in the future.
“This work shows that a drug called TTK21 that is administered systemically once a week after chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) in animals can promote neuronal regrowth and an increase in synapses needed for neural transmission,” Simone Di Giovanni, principal investigator. from the university, he said in a statement.
“This is important because chronic spinal cord injury is an incurable condition where neural regrowth and repair fail.
“We are now exploring the combination of this drug with strategies that bridge the spinal cord gap such as biomaterials as possible avenues to improve disability in LM patients.”
Spinal injuries are devastating and more common than some may believe. The Miami Project reports that approximately 300,000 Americans are currently living with a spinal cord injury.
Around 17,000 more people will suffer an injury each year. The vast majority of cases, 80 percent, are men.
In 20 percent of cases, the injured person will suffer complete paraplegia, completely losing movement below the debris.
Currently, there are no drugs to treat MS, and instead patients undergo years of physical therapy if they hope to recover.