Monday, July 17, 2006

Study Shows Spinal Cord Regeneration

A U.S. scientist has demonstrated in a lab animal the successful regeneration of injured spinal nerve endings and recovery of arm movements.

John Houle, professor of neurobiology and anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine, demonstrated how a nerve removed from the animal`s leg and transplanted across a spinal cord injury -- in combination with enzyme digestion of scar material -- led to regeneration.

'This study represents a major milestone in the battle to return spinal cord injury patients to a state of mobility,' said Houle. 'However there is still a lot of work to be done to adapt this procedure to human use.'

He said a significant aspect of the study is the process applies to animals that are newly injured, as well as in animals with long-term injuries.

A second facet of the study is the ability of the specific enzyme, chondroitinase, to modify scar tissue, reducing its normal inhibitory nature and facilitating growth beyond the bridge.

The research project is detailed in the Journal of Neuroscience.