Scientists have created a synthetic peptide that stimulates the regeneration of axons of nerve cells in the spinal cord.
Spinal cord injuries are among the most dangerous because they can damage the nerve fibers (axons) that transmit signals between the brain and the muscles of the lower extremities. Since there are no mechanisms in the human body that trigger their regeneration, this often leads to paralysis. Researchers are currently investigating a variety of ways to restore limb functionality, including stimulation therapy, transplantation, and bypassing..
A team from the Ruhr University in Bochum decided to take a different route and try to repair damaged axons using a special protein. To do this, they created hyper-interleukin-6 (hIL-6) – modified natural peptide that promotes the regeneration of nerve fibers.
The tests were carried out on laboratory mice with a crushed spinal cord and paralyzed hind legs. Immediately after injury, the animals were injected with a common viral carrier into the primary sensorimotor cortex..
Over time, neurons at the injection site began to produce regenerating protein and transmit it through the lateral branches of axons to other neurons responsible for actions such as walking. After 2-3 weeks, the mice showed recovery of the function of the hind legs, even after just one injection.
In the future, scientists will study the possibility of achieving a similar effect with the introduction of hIL-6 several weeks after injury.. Although even with successful trials, this method of treatment will not begin to be applied to people soon.
Researchers have also recently discovered a genetic factor that allows adult skin to heal without scarring..
German Scientists’ Experiment Enables Paralyzed Mice to Walk
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Ruhr-Universität Bochum