Nerve Regeneration Treatment Discovered in Physically Active Rats

For those who are physically active before a spinal cord injury, there is now evidence that an active lifestyle prior to an injury can help enhance recovery if they ever find themselves paralyzed. This news comes from a team of researchers at Imperial College in London. Researchers, in fact, have made spinal cord injury news on two fronts.

Not only did they discover that the rats in the cages that had more space, more wheels to play on, etc, recovered at a higher rate, they also discovered an exciting molecule in the process. They found that the animals who were more physically active had higher levels of a molecule called the CREB-binding protein, which they believe is reprogramming the nerve cells in injured rats and altering the expression of several genes in these cells. And as a result, this boosts the cell’s ability to regenerate.

The molecule CBP could change the spinal cord injury research game for those with new injuries. Knowing that the molecule has the ability to alter the expression of genes in a nerve cell, they applied a recently developed drug to activate the CBP, and it worked. As a result, this drug when applied to an injured rat, activated the CBP molecule, getting it to begin its regeneration effect on the nerve cells in its surrounding area. And the results from the trials were exactly what the researchers hoped for.

In the trials they conducted on injured mice and rats, they found that if they applied the drug to injured rats within 6 hours of their injury, it worked exactly as they hoped for. They also had to apply it again 1 week later. This promoted regeneration and spread new nerves throughout the damaged nerve area. All of the rats that did not receive the treatment did not recover the mobility back in their back legs. The rats that did receive the treatment (within 6 hours of their injury), on the other hand, nearly fully regained the mobility in their back legs.

This is quite exciting news for those who have a new spinal cord injury in the future. Unfortunately, researchers did not see the same results in the rats if the drug was applied at a later date. Researchers are hopeful that one day this treatment could be applied to humans with acute injuries, and possibly not too far off in the future as the drug is nearly ready to be applied to humans relatively soon, says the lead researcher Professor Di Giovanni.

Researchers, however, need to make sure that this drug treatment is safe before they can begin any human clinical trials. Once they are able to prove its safety, researchers say that this drug treatment in clinical trials will begin. For the best results, researchers say success is more likely in patients that combine the drug treatment along with activity-based therapy exercises and gait training.

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Topics: Technology & Advancements, Research

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