SEARCH FOR SCI CURE: study improved breathing and arm function in high-level chronic SCI involving rats

Yes, count this as yet another study that cured rats but read on before you move on. The new study describes a treatment regimen that helps reawaken certain special types of nerve cells that can regenerate extensions, called axons, within the damaged spinal cord. Rats with spinal cords half severed at the second cervical vertebrae (C2) regained complete diaphragm and partial forelimb function on the severed side after treatment. The recuperative effects of the therapy were fully maintained six months after treatment end.

In animals treated immediately after spinal cord injury, the enzyme only marginally helped restore nerve growth with minimal functional recovery. However, in animals treated long after injury, the therapeutic effects of the enzyme were remarkably better. In as little as one week after treatment in chronically injured rats, new nerve extensions began to restore diaphragm function that had been silent for many months. Seventy percent of rats treated with the enzyme chronically also began to use their forelimbs to move about and explore their environment (compared to only 30 percent of control animals).