Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers invent way to determine optimal conditions for spinal cord nerve regen in lab animals

03.05.2004


Mayo Clinic researchers have created a method for measuring the growth of new spinal cord nerve fibers in rats, an advance that allows them to quickly determine nerve regeneration rate and what variables in the nerve-growth environment best support it.
The finding is important because it is a first step in laboratory animal models that will help scientists refine and improve nerve repair and regrowth in spinal cord injuries. While much basic science remains to be completed, this path of discovery could possibly lead one day to new therapies to reverse paralysis in human patients who have suffered complete spinal cord injury. The findings will be presented April 30 in San Francisco at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting.

Significance of the Mayo Clinic Finding


This new regrowth measurement method and evaluating conditions of the spinal microenvironment in which regrowth occurs extend earlier Mayo Clinic research. In the earlier research the team successfully regenerated healthy spinal nerve endings of paralyzed rats using an implantable scaffolding. The scaffolding is referred to as a "biodegradable spinal graft."

Mayo Clinic’s experimental scaffolding consists of several innovations. It uses polymer chemistry to create a biodegradable material that can be molded, through microfabrication techniques, to make implantable, trellis-like scaffolding that both supports and guides new nerve fibers. It does this by providing channels through which the axons (nerve endings) grow.

The new measurement method shows that the scaffolding not only supports axon regeneration when seeded with cells that stimulate regrowth, but that it can quantify axon growth under different experimental conditions. "Knowing what conditions favor regrowth -- or retard it -- enables researchers to design a maximally efficient system for achieving the best regrowth," says Anthony Windebank, M.D., neurologist, molecular neuroscientist and joint principal investigator.

"We feel that this research program will make a contribution toward a solution to the spinal cord injury problem," adds Michael Yaszemski, M.D., Ph.D., orthopedic spinal surgeon and chemical engineer.

The determination of the effectiveness of the scaffolding is important because other surgical attempts to regenerate nerve growth do not direct and support the growth, so crucial connections needed to restore the damaged nerve are not always made. Without these connections, electrical impulses that coordinate movement cannot be conducted and paralysis cannot be reversed.

Background

Both synthetic and biological axon growth-guidance channels have been studied. Biological channels usually consisted of grafts of nerves from the peripheral nervous system. Synthetic channels included various biocompatible materials. The channels have been filled with different types of cells to determine the most viable "supporting cells" for creating nerve regrowth. These include: Schwann cells, olfactory ensheathing glia, neural stem cells and others.

But researchers lacked an effective way to compare the ability of different cell types to support axonal regeneration. Then they discovered that the scaffolding also can be used as a kind of "measuring stick" to quantify nerve regrowth.

The Experiment

To test this idea, researchers loaded 3 mm-long scaffolds with several different types of supporting cells to generate new nerves. They then surgically inserted each into identical 3 mm-long gaps made in rat spinal cords. One month after implantation, four to six spinal cords and scaffolds were harvested from the rats, and systematically analyzed and compared, from nose to tail section. Other conditions were altered in the regrowth environment and tracked to determine their effects on nerve regrowth. A researcher with no knowledge of which cell type was in each scaffold, or which environment had been altered, then counted axon regrowth.

Results and Conclusions

Results varied. Some cell types supported no growth at the midpoint of the scaffold; others supported considerable growth. Researchers conclude that the biodegradable particular scaffolds can successfully be seeded with certain cells and support axon regrowth throughout the length of the scaffold. In addition, they believe axon counting after one month is an effective way to distinguish the effects of alterations in the microenvironment of axon regeneration. These findings will help lead researchers to the next step -- optimizing conditions of the microenvironment in which nerve regrowth occurs. Further studies will then be needed to determine if nerve function improves with optimal growth.

John Murphy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mayo.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>