Putting a protein into overdrive to heal spinal cord injuries – UT Southwestern Medical Center

New spinal neurons converted from glia.

 
Using genetic engineering, researchers at UT Southwestern and Indiana University have reprogrammed scar-forming cells in mouse spinal cords to create new nerve cells, spurring recovery after spinal cord injury. The findings, published online today in Cell Stem Cell, could offer hope for the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who suffer a spinal cord injury each year.

Cells in some body tissues proliferate after injury, replacing dead or damaged cells as part of healing. However, explains study leader Chun-Li Zhang, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and a W.W. Caruth, Jr. Scholar in Biomedical Research at UTSW, the spinal cord typically does not generate new neurons after injury – a key roadblock to recovery. Because the spinal cord acts as a signal relay between the brain and the rest of the body, he adds, its inability to self-repair permanently halts communication between these two areas, leading to paralysis, loss of sensation, and sometimes life-threatening consequences such as an inability to control breathing or heart rate.

Click here to read full article https://www.utsouthwestern.edu/newsroom/articles/year-2021/heal-spinal-cord-injuries.html

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