Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cut Nerve Fibers Are Repaired In An Animal Model Of Spinal Cord Injury; May Help Repair Nerve Damage In Humans

Date:
April 2, 1999
Source:
Society For Neuroscience
Summary:
Scientists have found success in animals with a promising new way to rejoin severed nerves quickly. "The technique rejoins the cut or crushed ends of severed central and peripheral nerve cells so that the repaired cells again conduct electrical signals through the severed area within seconds to minutes after they are rejoined," says George Bittner, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin.

WASHINGTON, D.C. April 1 -- Scientists have found success in animals with a promising new way to rejoin severed nerves quickly.

Related Articles


"The technique rejoins the cut or crushed ends of severed central and peripheral nerve cells so that the repaired cells again conduct electrical signals through the severed area within seconds to minutes after they are rejoined," says George Bittner, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin. The central nervous system (CNS) includes the brain and spinal cord; the peripheral nervous system (PNS) includes nerves found in the rest of the body.

Several hundred thousand central and peripheral nervous system injuries occur annually in the United States, primarily due to trauma and stroke. There is currently no technique in humans or other mammals which can repair severed nerves in the brain or spinal cord or speed up the repair of severed peripheral nerves.

"The technique opens up a completely novel approach to restoring physiological continuity in the injured nervous system," says Michael Selzer, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bittner's study, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, is published in the April 1 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Nerve cells possess axons, extensions that transmit electrical signals over long distances in the body. When these biological transmission lines are cut, their electrical signals can no longer be transmitted. Nerve cells in mammals, including humans, usually cannot regenerate axons that are severed in the CNS. At present, the functions once controlled by those axons cannot be restored. Severed PNS axons regenerate very slowly, about one millimeter or 1/25th of an inch per day.

In the new study, Bittner and his colleagues applied a calcium-free solution of polyethylene glycol (PEG) for one to two minutes to the cut ends of severed axons. PEG causes the cell membranes of closely approximated cells to fuse. The researchers then washed off the PEG solution and bathed the site where the axons had been joined in calcium solutions that mimic the salt composition of mammalian body fluids. They found that within two to 30 minutes many of the once-severed axons regained their ability to transmit electrical impulses through the lesion site. They then applied a biological adhesive (a PEG-hydrogel) developed by one of the authors, Jeffery Hubbell, Ph.D., who is now at the Swiss Federal Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. This substance binds very tightly to the severed axons and prevents the rejoined axons from pulling apart once the animal recovers from anesthesia.

The researchers have now successfully used this technique to rejoin the severed halves of CNS and PNS axons from crayfish, earthworms, rats, rabbits, and guinea pigs. "This new approach can almost certainly be used to rapidly rejoin cut or crushed axons in humans," Bittner says. To aid this effort, Bittner and his colleagues have already published papers showing how the severed ends of mammalian axons can be kept alive for at least days after they are disconnected from their parent cells. An ability to keep severed axons alive would give surgeons a longer time to rejoin those axons with PEG solutions.

Selzer emphasizes that, until now, demonstrations that fused mammalian nerve fibers can conduct electrical impulses have been performed in tissue isolated from the body. Among crucial questions that remain are whether the technique can fuse axons in a living mammal and whether this approach can result in recovery of useful function.

Bittner's co-authors also included April Lore, David Bobb, Martis Ballinger, Keisha Loftin, Jeffory Smith, Mark Smyers and Hubacuc Garcia. Bittner is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, an organization of more than 28,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system. The Society publishes The Journal of Neuroscience.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society For Neuroscience. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society For Neuroscience. "Cut Nerve Fibers Are Repaired In An Animal Model Of Spinal Cord Injury; May Help Repair Nerve Damage In Humans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990402074520.htm>.
Society For Neuroscience. (1999, April 2). Cut Nerve Fibers Are Repaired In An Animal Model Of Spinal Cord Injury; May Help Repair Nerve Damage In Humans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990402074520.htm
Society For Neuroscience. "Cut Nerve Fibers Are Repaired In An Animal Model Of Spinal Cord Injury; May Help Repair Nerve Damage In Humans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990402074520.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Daily Serving Of Yogurt Could Reduce Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Need another reason to eat yogurt every day? Researchers now say it could reduce a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

Madagascar Working to Contain Plague Outbreak

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — Madagascar said Monday it is trying to contain an outbreak of plague -- similar to the Black Death that swept Medieval Europe -- that has killed 40 people and is spreading to the capital Antananarivo. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins