Nerve regeneration breakthrough gives hope to spinal cord injury victims

13 December 2017 10:16

40,000 Britons suffer from spinal cord injury

40,000 Britons suffer from spinal cord injury

People who are paralysed through spinal cord injury are being given fresh hope following a breakthrough that could regenerate the nerves.

Scientists at the University of Bristol have successfully carried out a transplant procedure of genetically modified cells in rodents, triggering nerve renewal.

The study provides evidence that a new treatment could be developed that would successfully repair the spinal cord, according to Dr Liang-Fong Wong of the Bristol Medical School.

A life-changing condition

Spinal cord injury - for which there is currently no cure - affects around 40,000 people in Britain, according to the Spinal Injuries Association.

The consequences of the condition are full or partial paralysis in either the lower limbs (paraplegia) or all four limbs (tetraplegia).

Those who suffer with paralysis can also experience incontinence, trouble breathing and involuntary spasms.

'Further testing needed'

Spinal cord scars block nerve regrowth, however this new procedure secretes a treatment molecule that removes the scar and can aid recovery.

The scientists have extracted cells from the 'smell system' and genetically modified them to secrete a treatment enzyme known as chondroitinase ABC (ChABC).

The team, led by Dr Wong and Dr Nicolas Granger, says the enzyme has removed some of the glial scar in rodents, but say more research is needed to determine whether the treatment could be effective long term.

Dr Wong, continued: "While these initial results look promising, in order to determine the longer-term survival of our genetically modified cells and assess functional recovery, such as recovery of walking or recovery of continence, we need to carry out further studies to test these cell transplants in more chronic injury models."

Anyone who suffers from a pre-existing medical condition can enjoy a full life and regular holidays with pre-existing medical travel insurance

Anyone who suffers from a pre-existing medical condition can enjoy a full life and regular holidays with pre-existing medical travel insurance.

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