Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tiny nerves from the ribs may restore leg movement in spinal cord injury

07.10.2002


Researchers receive grant to use robots to improve walking



Irvine, Calif. -- Paralysis from spinal cord injury was significantly reversed by adding tiny nerves from the rib cage and mixing them with a powerful growth inducer found in most nerve cells, a UC Irvine and Long Beach Veterans Administration Medical Center study has found.

The study, conducted in rats, suggests that nerve cells can be inserted and stimulated to grow through damaged areas of the spinal cord, perhaps leading to better treatments for spinal cord injury. The research is part of a wave of studies challenging the conventional wisdom that severed nerves in the spinal cord are nearly impossible to regenerate. The study appears in the October issue of the Journal of Neurotrauma.


Dr. Vernon Lin, professor of physical medicine at UCI and director of the Spinal Cord Injury Group at the Long Beach V.A., and his colleagues found that grafting nerves from the rib cage and adding the growth stimulator, a molecule called aFGF, partially restored hind leg movement in rats that had their spinal cords severed.

"By using tiny nerves from the rib cage as cables connecting the severed spinal cord, we were able to get some improvement in leg function," Lin said. "Regeneration is considered very difficult because the damaged area apparently inhibits growth of new nerve-cell connections. This study gets us closer to arriving at the right combination of growth factors, nerve cells and physical stimulation that overcome these inhibitions and successfully treat spinal cord injury."

Lin and his team found that 12 rats with severed spinal cords were able to move their hind legs again after treatment with both the aFGF and the nerve grafts, while rats that had either the aFGF or nerve grafts alone showed nearly no improvement. Rats receiving both the growth factor and the nerve cell grafts could support some of their weight on their back legs.

The growth factor aFGF is normally produced in the spinal cord by nerve cells, but scientists suspect that it is stored and only used when nerve cells are damaged. Previous studies have shown that adding aFGF can stimulate growth in individual nerve cells in the laboratory.

The rats’ movements were measured using a tool called a BBB score. Normal movement rates a BBB score of about 21. Six months after the rats were treated, the animals that received the aFGF and nerve grafts had scores between six and seven. The other animals did not score higher than one on the scale.

"While not a perfectly normal score of locomotion, the treatments did allow the rats to step forward and put weight on their hind legs," Lin said. "We also found that the nerves in the leg below the injury site were once again receiving nerve impulses from the brain. We believe that eventually, we may be able to find the right mix of factors and physical stimulation all working together to improve this restored movement to more normal levels."

The researchers also plan to study the use of robots to aid in the placement and maintenance of nerve cells that are grafted into an injured area, to help improve movement. They recently received a $600,000 research grant from the Veterans Administration to continue their work in designing and testing robots that could help in maintaining the gait necessary to walk. Currently, they are testing the ability of the robots to accurately maintain a walking gait in rats. Eventually, the researchers hope to test the robots in humans and determine if the machines are actually helping restore the ability to walk after spinal cord injury.


Lin’s colleagues in the study include Yu-Shang Lee of UCI’s College of Medicine and Ian Hsiao of UCI and the Long Beach V.A. Medical Center.

Andrew Porterfield | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uci.edu/
http://www.today.uci.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Light beam replaces blood test during heart surgery
28.02.2017 | University of Central Florida

nachricht Cells adapt ultra-rapidly to zero gravity
28.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists reach back in time to discover some of the most power-packed galaxies

28.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nano 'sandwich' offers unique properties

28.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Light beam replaces blood test during heart surgery

28.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>