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The injection that regenerates the nerves of the spinal cord

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This work demonstrates that a drug called TTK21 , administered systemically to animals once a week, after a chronic spinal cord injury, can promote the regrowth of neurons and the increase of synapses required for neuronal transmission. “This is important because chronic spinal cord injury is a condition with no cure in which neuron regrowth and repair fails,” explains lead study author Dr Simone Di Giovanni of Imperial College London, in a Press release. Damage to the spinal cord disrupts the constant flow of electrical signals from the brain to the body. It can lead to paralysis of the limbs underlying the injury. There are currently no effective treatments for spinal cord injuries. Physical rehabilitation can help patients regain some range of motion. However, in severe cases, results are severely limited by the inability of spinal neurons to regenerate naturally.

 

The study published in the journal PLOS Biology demonstrated that TTK21 triggers cell regeneration; in fact, it promoted the regrowth of sensory and motor neurons when it was given to mice 12 weeks after a severe injury. The drug belongs to a group of therapies known as epigenetic activators , which act on damaged DNA. In the experiments, laboratory rodents with severe spinal cord injuries lived in an enriched environment that gave them the opportunity to be physically active, which doctors also encourage for human patients.

The treatment lasted 10 weeks. The study authors identified several improvements, the most evident of which was the germination of more axons in the spinal cord, which regenerated due to the new treatment. Retraction of motor axons above the point of injury also ceased and growth of sensory axons increased. The next step will be to further enhance the effects and get the regenerated axons to reconnect to the rest of the nervous system, so the animals can regain the ability to move around with ease.

“We are now exploring the combination of this drug with strategies that bridge the spinal cord gap, such as biomaterials, as possible avenues to improve disability in patients affected by this type of injury,” adds Dr. Di Giovanni.

For decades, this has remained a major challenge. Our body’s central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, lacks a significant ability to repair itself.

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  • CBP/p300 activation promotes axon growth, sprouting, and synaptic plasticity in chronic experimental spinal cord injury with severe disability. (journals.plos.org)
 

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