Category: ‘Research for a Cure’


Paralyzed Mice with Spinal Cord Injury Made to Walk Again

Posted on July 20th, 2020

Cross section of a mouse spinal cord.
A cross section of a mouse spinal cord, stained two different ways, showing increased expression of KCC2 in inhibitory neurons. This increased expression correlated with improved motor function, including ankle movement and stepping. Credit: Zhigang He Lab, Boston Children’s Hospital

Most people with spinal cord injury are paralyzed from the injury site down, even when the cord isn’t completely severed. Why don’t the spared portions of the spinal cord keep working? Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital now provide insight into why these nerve pathways remain quiet. They also show that a small-molecule compound, given systemically, can revive these circuits in paralyzed mice, restoring their ability to walk.

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An Engineering Approach to Shape Neuronal Connections

Posted on June 8th, 2020

Precise control over neuron growth paves the way for repairing injuries, improving brain models.

Arlotta Neuron Growth
Neurons in the zebrafish, where Harvard researchers tested their approach to direct axon growth. Credit: Arlotta Laboratory/Harvard University

Harvard University researchers have developed an engineering technique to precisely control the direction that neurons grow their axons, cable-like structures that allow nerve cells to connect with each other. In a zebrafish model, researchers used the approach to correct defective neural connections and restore the neuron’s ability to cause muscle contractions.

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New Treatment Discovered to Reduce Swelling after Spinal Cord Injuries

Posted on May 16th, 2020

Scientists have discovered a new treatment to dramatically reduce swelling after brain and spinal cord injuries, offering hope to 75 million victims worldwide each year.

Stem Cell Therapy

The breakthrough in treating such injuries – referred to as central nervous system (CNS) oedema – is thought to be hugely significant because current options are limited to putting patients in an induced coma or performing risky surgery.

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Scientists Regenerate Neurons in Mice with Spinal Cord Injury and Optic Nerve Damage

Posted on April 30th, 2020

Axon Regeneration
Injured CNS axons fail to regenerate in adult mammals and there are no effective regenerative strategies to treat patients with CNS injuries. Dr. Li’s group demonstrates that upregulating Lin28 gene in mature neurons induces significant long distance regeneration of both spinal cord axons and optic nerve in adult mice.

Like power lines in an electrical grid, long wiry projections that grow outward from neurons – structures known as axons – form interconnected communication networks that run from the brain to all parts of the body. But unlike an outage in a power line, which can be fixed, a break in an axon is permanent. Each year thousands of patients confront this reality, facing life-long losses in sensation and motor function from spinal cord injury and related conditions in which axons are badly damaged or severed.

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Study Shows Sense of Touch Can Be Returned to Those with Spinal Cord Injury

Posted on April 24th, 2020

A painting of two human hands about to touch.
Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

The lack of sensation that accompanies paralysis is an additional burden that has, until now, been a problem that science has not been able to remedy.

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