Posted on December 21st, 2019
Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have made several novel discoveries in the field of spinal cord injuries (SCI). Most recently, the team led by Xiao-Ming Xu, PhD, has been working to determine how to activate movement after a spinal cord injury at the ninth thoracic level, where nerve fibers from the brain down to the spinal cord are interrupted. Instead of focusing on the injury site, researcher Qi Han and his colleagues modulated the spared lumbar circuits below the injury to improve recovery from SCI, using animal models. The team revealed that neuromodulation of interrupted lumbar motor circuits by neurotrophic therapy improved locomotor performance. These findings are being published in the December 20 issue of Nature Communications. “There are no definitive treatments yet for SCI patients,” said Han. “However, hope for restoring motor function continues to rise, for good reason. We find that, despite no direct damage from thoracic SCI, the lumbar circuit undergoes a profound neurodegeneration, which we have highlighted as a promising new therapeutic target for promoting neuroprotection.”
Posted on December 18th, 2019
Four months after treating them, Yasuhiro Shiga, MD, PhD, checked on his rats. Walking into the lab, he carried minimal expectations. Treating spinal cord injuries with stem cells had been tried by many people, many times before, with modest success at best. The endpoint he was specifically there to measure — pain levels — hadn’t seemed to budge in past efforts.