Breakthrough therapy to reverse paralysis after severe spinal cord injuries

November 24, 2021 0 By Team FM

Researchers from Northwestern University, Illinois, have developed a new injectable therapy that helps paralyzed animals regain the ability to walk within four weeks. In the new study, focused on sending bioactive signals to trigger cells to repair and regenerate, researchers administered a single injection to tissues surrounding the spinal cords of paralysed mice. Just four weeks later, the animals regained the ability to walk. 

The research, published in the journal Science last week, proved that the therapy dramatically improved severely injured spinal cords mainly in five ways, including  regeneration of the severed extensions of neurons, known as axons; diminishing  scar tissue, which create a physical barrier to regeneration and repair; reforming myelin, the insulating layer of axons that is important in transmitting electrical signals efficiently; forming functional blood vessels to deliver nutrients to cells at the injury site; and surviving more motor neurons. The materials that are used in the single injection therapy to send bioactive signals biodegrade into nutrients for the cells within 12 weeks and then completely disappear from the body without noticeable side effects, the researchers claimed.

This was the first study in which researchers controlled the collective motion of molecules through changes in chemical structure to regenerate or repair cells in the severely injured spinal cords. Until now it remained a major challenge because the central nervous system does not have any significant capacity to repair itself after injury or after the onset of a degenerative disease. The new therapy is expected to go soon to the FDA for approval for use in human patients as currently there are hardly any treatment options for reversing paralysis.