Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

In breakthrough, nerve connections are regenerated after spinal cord injury

Date:
August 9, 2010
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Researchers for the first time have induced robust regeneration of nerve connections that control voluntary movement after spinal cord injury, showing the potential for new therapeutic approaches to paralysis and other motor function impairments.

New research points the way toward a potential therapy to induce regeneration of nerve connections following spinal cord injury.
Credit: iStockphoto/Feng Yu

Researchers for the first time have induced robust regeneration of nerve connections that control voluntary movement after spinal cord injury, showing the potential for new therapeutic approaches to paralysis and other motor function impairments.

In a study on rodents, the UC Irvine, UC San Diego and Harvard University team achieved this breakthrough by turning back the developmental clock in a molecular pathway critical for the growth of corticospinal tract nerve connections.

They did this by deleting an enzyme called PTEN (a phosphatase and tensin homolog), which controls a molecular pathway called mTOR that is a key regulator of cell growth. PTEN activity is low early during development, allowing cell proliferation. PTEN then turns on when growth is completed, inhibiting mTOR and precluding any ability to regenerate.

Trying to find a way to restore early-developmental-stage cell growth in injured tissue, Zhigang He, a senior neurology researcher at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, first showed in a 2008 study that blocking PTEN in mice enabled the regeneration of connections from the eye to the brain after optic nerve damage.

He then partnered with Oswald Steward of UCI and Binhai Zheng of UCSD to see if the same approach could promote nerve regeneration in injured spinal cord sites. Results of their study appear online in Nature Neuroscience.

"Until now, such robust nerve regeneration has been impossible in the spinal cord," said Steward, anatomy & neurobiology professor and director of the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at UCI. "Paralysis and loss of function from spinal cord injury has been considered untreatable, but our discovery points the way toward a potential therapy to induce regeneration of nerve connections following spinal cord injury in people."

According to Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation data, about 2 percent of Americans have some form of paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury, which is due primarily to the interruption of connections between the brain and spinal cord.

An injury the size of a grape can lead to complete loss of function below the level of injury. For example, an injury to the neck can cause paralysis of arms and legs, loss of ability to feel below the shoulders, inability to control the bladder and bowel, loss of sexual function, and secondary health risks including susceptibility to urinary tract infections, pressure sores and blood clots due to an inability to move the legs.

"These devastating consequences occur even though the spinal cord below the level of injury is intact," Steward noted. "All these lost functions could be restored if we could find a way to regenerate the connections that were damaged."

He and his colleagues are now studying whether the PTEN-deletion treatment leads to actual restoration of motor function in mice with spinal cord injury. Further research will explore the optimal timeframe and drug-delivery system for the therapy.

Kai Liu, Yi Lu, Andrea Tedeschi, Kevin Kyungsuk Park, Duo Jin, Bin Cai, Bengang Xu and Lauren Connolly of Harvard; Jae Lee of UCSD; and Rafer Willenberg and Ilse Sears-Kraxberger of UCI also contributed to the study, which was supported by the Wings for Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the International Spinal Research Trust, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke, and a private contribution to the Reeve-Irvine Research Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kai Liu, Yi Lu, Jae K Lee, Ramsey Samara, Rafer Willenberg, Ilse Sears-Kraxberger, Andrea Tedeschi, Kevin Kyungsuk Park, Duo Jin, Bin Cai, Bengang Xu, Lauren Connolly, Oswald Steward, Binhai Zheng & Zhigang He. PTEN deletion enhances the regenerative ability of adult corticospinal neurons. Nature Neuroscience, 08 August 2010 DOI: 10.1038/nn.2603

Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "In breakthrough, nerve connections are regenerated after spinal cord injury." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100808212800.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2010, August 9). In breakthrough, nerve connections are regenerated after spinal cord injury. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100808212800.htm
University of California - Irvine. "In breakthrough, nerve connections are regenerated after spinal cord injury." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100808212800.htm (accessed April 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. 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:
from the past week

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