Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Discovery may help nerve regeneration in spinal injury

Date:
November 6, 2012
Source:
University of Liverpool
Summary:
Scientists have uncovered a possible new method of enhancing nerve repair in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

Scientists at the Universities of Liverpool and Glasgow have uncovered a possible new method of enhancing nerve repair in the treatment of spinal cord injuries.

It is known that scar tissue, which forms following spinal cord injury, creates an impenetrable barrier to nerve regeneration, leading to the irreversible paralysis associated with spinal injuries. Scientists at Liverpool and Glasgow have discovered that long-chain sugars, called heparan sulfates, play a significant role in the process of scar formation in cell models in the laboratory.

Research findings have the potential to contribute to new strategies for manipulating the scarring process induced in spinal cord injury and improving the effectiveness of cell transplantation therapies in patients with this type of injury.

Scarring occurs due to the activation, change in shape, and stiffness of cells, called astrocytes, which are the major nerve support cells in the spinal cord. One possible way to repair nerve damage is transplantation of support cells from peripheral nerves, called Schwann cells. The team, however, found that these cells secrete heparan sulfate sugars, which promote scarring reactions and could reduce the effectiveness of nerve repair.

Scientists showed that these sugars can over-activate protein growth factors that promote astrocyte scarring. Significantly, however, they found this over-activation could be inhibited by chemically modified heparins made in the laboratory. These compounds could prevent the scarring reaction of astrocyte cells, opening up new opportunities for treatment of damaged nerve cells.

Professor Jerry Turnbull, from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Integrative Biology, said: "Spinal injury is a devastating condition and can result in paralysis for life. The sugars we are investigating are produced by nearly every cell in the body, and are similar to the blood thinning drug heparin.

"We found that some sugar types promote scarring reaction, but remarkably other types, which can be chemically produced in the laboratory by modifying heparin, can prevent this in our cell models.

"Studies in animal cells are now needed, but the exciting thing about this work is that it could, in the future, provide a way of developing treatments for improving nerve repair in patients, using the body's own Schwann cells, supplemented with specific sugars."

Professor Sue Barnett, from the University of Glasgow's Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, said: "We had already shown that Schwann cells, identified as having the potential to promote nerve regrowth, induced scarring in spinal cord injury. Now that we know that they secrete these complex sugars, which lead to scarring, we have the opportunity to intervene in this process, and promote central nervous system repair."

The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Liverpool. "Discovery may help nerve regeneration in spinal injury." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121106191909.htm>.
University of Liverpool. (2012, November 6). Discovery may help nerve regeneration in spinal injury. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121106191909.htm
University of Liverpool. "Discovery may help nerve regeneration in spinal injury." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121106191909.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
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