A new drug could heal spinal cord injuries by encouraging nerves to grow and repair injuries in the spinal cord. This could help people that are paralyzed regain their movements and maybe even walk again.
Scientists from the Case Western Reserve have created a new chemical substance that shows astonishing promise in helping restore the functions of spinal cord lost due to injuries. The new compound called by scientists intracellular sigma peptide or ISP, enabled muscles that are paralyzed to activate in over 80 percent of animals they tested. This means that the new compound’s use in a new drug could heal spinal cord injuries.
Shortly after a central nervous system injury, proteoglycan molecules gather in the scar tissue at the point of the injury and in the perineuronal net. In a healthy tissue, the proteoglycans are crucial elements in the intercellular substance and have an important role in keeping the structure of the nervous system.
Nevertheless, proteoglycans are extremely abundant after an injury in the scar tissue and the nets around synapses in the spinal cords and brain. The result is an impenetrable barrier that prevents new nerve connections and regeneration.
The study led by Professor Jerry Silver carried a research in which 21 of the 26 animals with injuries to the spinal cord recovered the capacity to move, urinate or even both.
“This recovery is unprecedented. Each of the 21 animals got something back in terms of function. For any spinal cord-injured patient today, it would be considered extraordinary to regain even one of these functions, especially bladder function. ISP additionally has treatment potential for diseases where the body produces destructive scarring such as heart attack, peripheral nerve injury and multiple sclerosis (MS)”.
Jerry Silver said.
A program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke from the NIH, Lyn Jakerman said:
“There are currently no drug therapies available that improve the very limited natural recovery from spinal cord injuries that patients experience. This is a great step toward identifying a novel agent for helping people recover.”
For the research, 26 spinal cord injured rats were given daily doses for a period of seven weeks. The results of the test revealed that 21 of the 26 rats regained one or even more abilities of functions such as the ability to control how much and when they urinate, balance and walk after the injections started.