Brain says to spine 'heal thyself': study

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Brain says to spine 'heal thyself': study

Postby beyondms » Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:46 am

Here is an interesting article. Happy New Year to all of you!!!!


beyondms


Brain says to spine 'heal thyself': study

by Marlowe Hood1 hour, 29 minutes ago

Tiny nerves crisscrossing the spine can bypass crippling injuries recently written off as irreversible, scientists reported in a study published Monday.

Experiments conducted on mice at the University of California in Los Angeles showed for the first time that the central nervous system can rewire itself to create small neural pathways between the brain and the nerve cells that control movement.

This startling discovery could one day open the way to new therapies for damaged spinal cords and perhaps address conditions stemming from stroke and multiple sclerosis, according to the study.

Normally, the brain relays messages that control walking or running via neural fibers called axons.

When these long nerves are crushed or severed -- in a road crash or sports accident, for example -- these lines of communication are cut, resulting in reduced movement or paralysis.

"Not long ago, it was assumed that the brain was hard-wired at birth and that there was no capacity to adapt to damage," explained neurobiologist Michael Sofroniew, who led the research.

But the new findings add to a growing evidence of the brain's remarkable capacity to reorganise in response to injury "in ways that were not thought possible," he told AFP.

Sofroniew compared the axons to major freeways running from the brain to the lower spinal cord.

"When there is a traffic accident on the freeway, what do drivers do? They take shorter surface streets," he said.

In the same way, the short nerves found up and down the spinal cord, called propriospinal connections, set up alternate routes.

"These detours aren't as fast or direct, but still allow drivers to reach their destinations," he said, completing the metaphor.

In the experiments, Sofroniew and his colleagues blocked half of the long axon nerve fibers in mice in different places, and at different times, on either side of the spinal cord, paralysing the animals' hind legs.

They left untouched the spinal cord's core, which contains the shorter nerves.

Astonishingly, most of the mice regained control of their legs within eight weeks, albeit with less mobility than before.

When the researchers blocked then shorter propriospinal nerves, the mice were once again paralysed, proving that they had been responsible for the recovered mobility.

The challenge for medicine will be finding ways to enhance and harness this spontaneous neural rewiring to help heal spinal cord injuries.

Up to now, most experts believed that the only way for injured patients to walk again was to regrow the long axon, but it has been extremely difficult to get these damaged "highways" to regenerate more than a short distance.

"The next goal is to determine how to maximise the process through the right kind of rehabilitation and training, and to test whether there are any forms of pharmacologic stimulation that might help as well," said Sofroniew.

More than a quarter of million people in the United States suffer from spinal cord injury, with some 10,000 new cases every year, according to epidemiological studies. Worldwide, the rate of new cases is between 15 and 40 cases per million every year.
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Postby Jim_P » Tue Jan 08, 2008 12:11 am

Amen to all this
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Postby viper498 » Tue Jan 08, 2008 7:46 am

Well I am not so sure this deserves an Amen. They really haven't said anything important clinically. There are so many who are paralyzed that are still paralyzed and have no use of their legs, or arms, or both. All of the will they have couldn't make them move their legs or arms, and I am quite sure its not from the lack of will on their part. If the brain could reroute in a humans case I am pretty sure that these cases would be noted in humans and not in these damn mice.

This startling discovery could one day open the way to new therapies for damaged spinal cords and perhaps address conditions stemming from stroke and multiple sclerosis, according to the study.
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Postby viper498 » Tue Jan 08, 2008 8:06 am

Sorry about that. I was going somewhere with the quote. How many damn times to I have to see this?

This startling discovery could one day open the way to new therapies for damaged spinal cords and perhaps address conditions stemming from stroke and multiple sclerosis, according to the study.


They say this all the time but yet nothing happens. That is really annoying. Some scientist torture some mice in a lab and note something unusual and all of a sudden, one day, it will lead to new therapies for treating some disease.

Seriously, this does appear to prove or say anything. Am I way off on how I am interpreting this?
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Postby gwa » Tue Jan 08, 2008 8:58 am

Viper,

I felt the same as you after reading the article. If mice could skate backwards to music it wouldn't change a thing for those of us with MS.

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