Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Containing the Damage of Spinal Cord Injuries

Nerve cell proteins may help reduce disability in days after injury

New findings from animal studies on nerve cell proteins show promise for reducing disability after someone suffers a spinal cord or other nervous system injury.

That finding comes from a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center study in the current issue of Cell Stress and Chaperones.

The Wake Forest researchers found they could prevent up to 50 percent of motor and sensory nerve cell death in mice with sciatic nerve injury. They did this by augmenting the stress protein response, in which cells produce proteins called Hsc70 and Hsp70.

These proteins help protect motor and sensory nerve cells from death when the cells are exposed to heat, injury or other forms of stress that threaten them.

"Our approach is based on a natural mechanism cells have for protecting themselves, called the stress protein response," lead researcher and neuroscientist Michael Tytell says in a prepared statement.

"We believe it has potential for preventing some of the disability that occurs as a result of nervous system trauma and disease," Tytell says.

The research is aimed at preventing or minimizing the secondary cell death that occurs in the hours and days after a spinal cord or brain injury. During this period, cells surround the injury site can become inflamed and die. This cascading response worsens the injured person's degree of disability.

By: Robert Preidt - HealthDayNews