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Nature: There is no Paralyzed Patient, and the Days of Freedom are not Far Away

2021-01-28
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The team created a “designer” signaling protein and injected it into the brains of animals to stimulate their nerves. The cells regenerate and share the recipe for making the protein. The research was published in Nature recently.

Nature: There is no paralyzed patient, and the days of freedom are not far away
Nature: There is no paralyzed patient, and the days of freedom are not far away

Spinal cord injury is often the most desperate. Damaged nerve fibers (axons) can no longer transmit signals between the brain and muscles, often leading to paralysis of the lower limbs. Worse, these axons cannot regenerate.
Previous studies have used spinal cord stimulation therapy or completely bypassing the wound site to restore some simple limb functions. In other promising studies in similar fields, it also includes the use of compounds to restore inhibitory and excitatory signals in neurons in partially paralyzed mice. Balance, and transplant the regenerated nasal nerve cells into the injured dog’s spine.
But in this new study, researchers from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) took a different approach, trying to repair damaged axons with a protein called hIL-6. Dietmar Fischer, the main researcher of the study, said that this is a so-called design cytokine, which does not naturally exist in nature. , And must be produced through genetic engineering.

In this study, the research team tested hIL-6 on mice that underwent spinal cord compression and caused complete loss of function of two hind legs. They packaged the genetic instructions to produce hIL-6 into a common viral vector and injected it into the sensory motor cortex of mice.
Motor neurons near the injection site no longer begin to produce hIL-6 by themselves, but also transmit it to other neurons responsible for walking and other actions through axon side branches. What is certain is that even within a few weeks after a single injection, the hind legs of the mice can still recover function.
The researchers said that gene therapy for only a few nerve cells stimulated the axon growth of various nerve cells in the brain, as well as the axon growth of several motor tracts in the spinal cord. Ultimately, paralyzed animals that had previously received this treatment began to walk back after two to three weeks. This surprised all researchers, because it was completely impossible in previous studies to treat paralysis.


Although the results are unbelievable, the research is still in its infancy. The research team said that the next task is to study whether paralyzed mice can get similar results if they are not treated immediately or started a few weeks after the injury. In the long run, the results of the study may benefit mankind.

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