Navigation Links
UCLA scientists restore walking after spinal cord injury
Date:1/6/2008

Spinal cord damage blocks the routes that the brain uses to send messages to the nerve cells that control walking. Until now, doctors believed that the only way for injured patients to walk again was to re-grow the long nerve highways that link the brain and base of the spinal cord. For the first time, a UCLA study shows that the central nervous system can reorganize itself and follow new pathways to restore the cellular communication required for movement.

Published in the January edition of Nature Medicine, the discovery could lead to new therapies for the estimated 250,000 Americans who suffer from traumatic spinal cord injuries. An additional 10,000 cases occur each year, according to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which helped fund the UCLA study.

Imagine the long nerve fibers that run between the cells in the brain and lower spinal cord as major freeways, explained Dr. Michael Sofroniew, lead author and professor of neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. When theres a traffic accident on the freeway, what do drivers do? They take shorter surface streets. These detours arent as fast or direct, but still allow drivers to reach their destination.

We saw something similar in our research, he added. When spinal cord damage blocked direct signals from the brain, under certain conditions the messages were able to make detours around the injury. The message would follow a series of shorter connections to deliver the brains command to move the legs.

Using a mouse model, Sofroniew and his colleagues blocked half of the long nerve fibers in different places and at different times on each side of the spinal cord. They left untouched the spinal cords center, which contains a connected series of shorter nerve pathways. The latter convey information over short distances up and down the spinal cord.

What they discovered surprised them.

We were excited to see that most of the mice regained the ability to control their legs within eight weeks, said Sofroniew. They walked more slowly and less confidently than before their injury, but still recovered mobility.

When the researchers blocked the short nerve pathways in the center of the spinal cord, the regained function disappeared, returning the animals paralysis. This step confirmed that the nervous system had rerouted messages from the brain to the spinal cord via the shorter pathways, and that these nerve cells were critical to the animals recovery.

When I was a medical student, my professors taught that the brain and spinal cord were hard-wired at birth and could not adapt to damage. Severe injury to the spinal cord meant permanent paralysis, said Sofroniew.

This pessimistic view has changed over my lifetime, and our findings add to a growing body of research showing that the nervous system can reorganize after injury, he added. What we demonstrate here is that the body can use alternate nerve pathways to deliver instructions that control walking.

The UCLA teams next step will be to learn how to entice nerve cells in the spinal cord to grow and form new pathways that connect across or around the injury site, enabling the brain to direct these cells. If the researchers succeed, the findings could lead to the development of new strategies for restoring mobility following spinal cord injury.

Our study has identified cells that we can target to try to restore communication between the brain and spinal cord, explained Sofroniew. If we can use existing nerve connections instead of attempting to rebuild the nervous system the way it existed before injury, our job of repairing spinal cord damage will become much easier.

Spinal cord injury involves damage to the nerves enclosed within the spinal canal; most injuries result from trauma to the vertebral column. This affects the brains ability to send and receive messages below the injury site to the systems that control breathing, movement and digestion. Patients generally experience greater paralysis when injury strikes higher in the spinal column.


'/>"/>

Contact: Elaine Schmidt
eschmidt@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2272
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Scientists Report Refinements to Brain Surgery
2. Jefferson scientists find protein potential drug target for treatment-resistant prostate cancer
3. Scientists Marvel at Santas Stamina
4. Scientists identify brain abnormalities underlying key element of borderline personality disorder
5. Scientists seek to assess the microbial risks in the water we drink
6. Scientists find how bacteria in cows milk may cause Crohns disease
7. Scientists discover new role for miRNA in leukemia
8. Scripps research scientists discover chemical triggers for aggression in mice
9. Top Scientists to Receive Prestigious Awards From the American Society of Hematology
10. Scientists identify gene that influences alcohol consumption
11. Atomic Bomb Survivor, Scientists Mark 60 Years of Long-Term Radiation Study
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Pixel Film Studios Released ... , "Film editors can give their videos a whole new perspective by using the ... CEO of Pixel Film Studios. , ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different presets ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Many women are confused ... endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan to not only alleviate symptoms and ... help for preservation of fertility and ultimately achieving a pregnancy. The specialists at ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... The temporary closing of Bruton Memorial Library ... City Observer , brings up a new, often overlooked aspect of head lice: the parasite’s ... for fumigation is not a common occurrence, but a necessary one in the event that ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. Omkar Marathe earned his ... David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in Internal Medicine at Scripps ... in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he had the opportunity to ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Canada (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional ... pursuit of success. In terms of the latter, setting the bar too high can ... risk more than just slow progress toward their goal. , Research from ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... The Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) ... would allow biopharmaceutical companies to more easily share health ... and coverage decisions, a move that addresses the growing ... The recommendations address restrictions in the sharing of ... label, a prohibition that hinders decision makers from accessing ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... LEXINGTON, Mass. , June 24, 2016   ... specialty pharmaceutical company developing innovative inhaled drugs, announced today ... when Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set ... 2016. "This is an important milestone for ... "It will increase shareholder awareness of our progress in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Any dentist who has ... of the current process. Many of them do not even ... technical difficulties and high laboratory costs involved. And those who ... it at such a high cost that the majority of ... Dr. Parsa Zadeh , founder of Dental Evolutions ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: