871 - Dancing Molecules May Restore Your Dance
Welcome to Medical Discovery News. I’m Dr. David Niesel
And I’m Dr. Norbert Herzog
The idea that serious spinal cord injuries are untreatable may not be true any longer. Scientists have developed a “dancing molecules” approach. It can repair the spinal cord and reverse paralysis.
In earlier studies, scientists built artificial scaffolds made partly with short proteins called peptides to signal tissue regeneration. But the results weren’t great.
The new study showed that when the movement of the signaling peptides is tuned just right, they can activate the cellular pathways important in spinal repair.
The researchers created a liquid that once injected into the spinal column, forms a gel composed of a network of nanofibers that mimics the natural matrix of the spinal column. The gel enhances the motion of the two signaling peptides which increases their ability to attach to cell receptors and activate those pathways.
One pathway stimulates the long threadlike parts of nerve cells which then cells to communicate helping regeneration.
The second signaling pathway stimulates the growth of supporting cells such as blood vessels. In just four weeks after a single injection of this gel into paralyzed mice, they could walk again.
The treatment has been through human clinical trials and safety testing. It was able to repair nerve damage and improved both sensations and mobility.
Similar approaches could one day be used to regenerate tissues in heart disease, liver failure and even some cancers.
We are Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, at UTMB and Quinnipiac University, where biomedical discoveries shape the future of medicine. For much more and our disclaimer go to medicaldiscoverynews.com or subscribe to our podcast. Sign up for expanded print episodes at www.illuminascicom.com