RIA NOVOSTI Pavel Lisitsin
German researchers were able to help mice paralyzed due to spinal cord injuries to walk again by re-establishing a nerve link, which had hitherto been considered irreversible in mammals.
And spinal cord injuries, often caused by sports or traffic accidents, leave their owners in a state of paralysis due to the inability of the nerve fibers that carry information between muscles and the brain to grow again.
But researchers at Ruhr University in Bochum were able to stimulate the paralyzed mouse neurons to push them to regenerate using a protein.
“What distinguishes our study is that the protein is not only used to stimulate those neurons to produce it on their own, but it is also transported further (through the brain),” said Detmar Fischer, head of the research team, in an interview with Reuters.
“In this way, and with a relatively simple intervention, we stimulate a large number of nerves to regenerate, and this in the end is the reason why mice are able to walk again.”
Fisher explained that the paralyzed mice that received the treatment began walking after two to three weeks.
The treatment includes injecting material carrying genetic information into the brain to produce the protein called “hyperinterleukin-6”, according to information published on the university’s website.
The team is looking at whether they can improve this approach.
“We also have to see if our (treatment) methods work for larger mammals. We will think, for example, of pigs or dogs or primates,” Fisher added.
“And if we succeed in treating them (the larger mammals), we have to make sure that the treatment is safe for humans as well. But that will definitely take many, many years,” he added.