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Technology Genetic engineering: hope for paraplegics - German researchers make paralyzed mice mobile again

20:15  22 january  2021
20:15  22 january  2021 Source:   stern.de

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German researchers have enabled mice paralyzed after spinal cord injuries to walk again Spinal cord injuries in humans, often caused by sports or traffic accidents, leave them paralyzed because Specifically, the firm is working on medications to reverse a group of genetic sight disorders called

German researchers have enabled mice paralyzed after spinal cord injuries to walk again , re-establishing a neural link hitherto considered irreparable in mammals by using a designer protein injected into the brain. Spinal cord injuries in humans, often caused by sports or traffic accidents

With the help of a designer protein that was injected into the brain of mice, the severed nerve tracts in the spinal cord of the test animals re-formed. After two to three weeks, the mice were able to walk again.

Zu Beginn kann die Maus die Hinterläufe nur hinter sich herziehen, nach ein paar Wochen sind die Beine wieder funktional. © PR At the beginning the mouse can only pull the hind legs behind it, after a few weeks the legs are functional again.

Injuries to the spinal cord and spine often occur in sports and traffic accidents. They lead to paralysis of the lower half of the body because the body alone is not able to repair the severed nerve pathways.

This is exactly what researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum have succeeded in doing with mice. The nerves weren't repaired surgically or with artificial circuits, they actually grew back. This "miracle" became possible after a designer protein was injected into the brain. It stimulated the nerve cells of the paralyzed mice to regenerate. The key to this is the protein hyper-interleukin-6, which stimulates the nerve cells to regenerate, and the way in which it is supplied to the animals. The researchers published their report in the journal Nature Communications.

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German researchers have enabled mice paralyzed after spinal cord injuries to walk again Spinal cord injuries in humans, often caused by sports or traffic accidents, leave them paralyzed because The treatment involves injecting carriers of genetic information into the brain to produce the protein

German researchers have enabled mice paralyzed after spinal cord injuries to walk again , re-establishing a neural link hitherto considered irreparable in mammals by using a designer protein injected into the brain.

Artificially produced protein

"This is a so-called designer cytokine, which means that it does not occur in nature and has to be genetically engineered," said the head of the team, Dietmar Fischer. "The special thing about our study is that the protein is not only used to stimulate the nerve cells that produce it themselves, but that it is also transported further through the brain," says Fischer. "In this way, we can stimulate a very large number of nerve cells with a relatively small intervention, and that is ultimately the reason why the mice can walk again." "That was a big surprise for us at the beginning, as this has not been possible until now after a complete paraplegia."

Long Road to Treating Humans

Two to three weeks after the injection the mice started walking again. The team is currently investigating how treatment can be improved. There is still a long way to go to reach humans. First of all, it must be clarified whether the effect also occurs with injuries that have been in the past.

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German researchers have enabled mice paralyzed after spinal cord injuries to walk again , re-establishing a neural link hitherto considered irreparable Spinal cord injuries in humans, often caused by sports or traffic accidents, leave them paralyzed because not all of the nerve fibres that carry

German researchers have enabled mice paralysed after spinal cord injuries to walk again A mouse which recovered from paralysis is seen in a lab at Ruhr University, where scientists The treatment involves injecting carriers of genetic information into the brain to produce the protein, called

This is the only way people who have had an accident can hope for a cure. "We have to see whether our method works with larger mammals. We think of pigs, dogs or primates," says Fischer. "If it then worked there, we would have to make sure that the therapy is also safe for people."

But it also dampens hopes: "It will certainly take many, many years."

Source: Nature Communications

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