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Repairing paralysis? ‘Growth cocktail’ shows promise for severed nerves

What are the Chances of Recovering from Paralysis
Image credit: Care 24
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

[R]esearchers have coaxed nerve cells to span the divide of a complete spinal cord injury. Their findings, described August 29 in Nature, are specific to only one kind of nerve cell and much work remains before a means of reconnection reaches patients, but the results make an impression.

The research team knew a certain type of nerve cell sometimes helps restore signaling from the spinal cord in partial spinal cord injury. Even when all direct connections to the brain are ruined, these cells can help sustain limited walking function.

They then turned to a set of chemicals that promote nerve cell growth and trigger production of a well-known structural protein called laminin, widely used in tissue engineering as a scaffold.

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[S]uccess came from delivering these chemicals to the propriospinal neurons using laminin as a support material, along with chemical lures to draw regenerating axons to the right place. The team finally coaxed what [neurobiologist Mark Anderson] calls “an unprecedented amount” of the neuron fibers to bridge the gap.

“Now we understand what it takes,” he says, referring to the trifecta of axon growth factors, laminin and chemical bait placed along the path to lure the axon. A long-term goal stemming from these results is to figure out how to take their complex, three-part protocol and make it something useful for patient care.

Read full, original post: Growth Cocktail Helps Restore Spinal Connections in the Most Severe Injuries

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