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Cancer drug aids the regeneration of spinal cord injuries
Date:1/28/2011

nt in the tip of growing nerve cells, stabilizing cells and actively pushing the cell end forward. This arrangement is lost in injured CNS cells. So how can the order of the microtubule be kept or regained in these cells? And once the cells start growing, how can they overcome the barrier of the scar tissue? Together with their colleagues from the United States and the Netherlands, the Max Planck scientists have now found a common solution for both problems.

New application for an established drug

Taxol, the trade name of a drug currently used for cancer treatment, has now been shown to promote regeneration of injured CNS-nerve cells. The scientists report in the online issue of the journal Science that Taxol promotes regeneration of injured CNS-nerve cells in two ways: Taxol stabilizes the microtubules so that their order is maintained and the injured nerve cells regain their ability to grow. In addition, Taxol prevents the production of an inhibitory substance in the scar tissue. The scar tissue, though reduced by Taxol, will still develop at the site of injury and can thus carry out its protective function. Yet growing nerve cells are now better able to cross this barrier. "This is literally a small breakthrough", says Bradke.

Experiments in rats performed by this group verified the effects of Taxol. These researchers supplied the injury site after a partial spinal cord lesion with Taxol via a miniature pump. After just a few weeks, animals showed a significant improvement in their movements. "So far we tested the effects of Taxol immediately after a lesion", explains Farida Hellal, the first author of the study. "The next step is to investigate whether Taxol is as effective when applied onto an existing scar several months after the injury."

Cautious hope

The fact that a clinically approved drug shows these effects has a number of advantages. Much is already known about its interactions with the human
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Contact: Stefanie Merker
merker@neuro.mpg.de
49-898-578-3514
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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