Gene therapy helped to cure paralysis of the limbs

The diagnosis of “paralysis of limbs” very often for a person that sounds like a death sentence. After all, when a particular damage nerve fibers to restore mobility or sensitivity. However, in the future things could change, because a team of researchers from king’s College London Netherlands Institute for neuroscience вернулf motor activity of experimental animals, which was completely paralyzed front legs.

As a rule, when damage to the spinal cord or neural pathways, the main reason preventing to restore the damage is scarring at the site of injury. In fact, in the formation of the scar there is nothing wrong is a protective reaction for the formation of connective tissue, but it becomes a problem in the damage sites of nerve trunks, because scar tissue grows faster than the fused nerve. Now, the main method of fighting is the removal of scars and prevention of their occurrence, but this is not always possible.

As the editors of the journal Brain, the new research, scientists have tried to “dissolve” the scar tissue and at the same time to learn to control the process of its formation. For this they need to get the surrounding cells to produce chondroitinase is an enzyme that destroys the scar tissue, without affecting the nervous. This helped, surprisingly, the antibiotic doxycycline. In this case, had to remove the antibiotic, as the process was resumed. After 2 months of therapy, the rodents regained the activity of the forelimbs. As told one of the authors Dr. Emily Burnside,

“After treatment, rats were able to gently get close enough to grab the sugar. We also recorded a significant increase in activity in the spinal cord of rats and believe that the networks of nerve cells formed new connections.”

Meanwhile, the scientists decided not to stay there and developed a method that will initiate the production of chondroitinase at the genetic level, creating a kind of “genetic switch”.

“Our approach allows you to control how long does therapy. We can choose the optimal time of exposure required for recovery. Gene therapy allows to treat even severe damage to the spinal cord with just one injection, and when the treatment is completed — we can simply deactivate the gene for another shot.”

In this case, as always, there is a fly in the ointment: the new method is not yet approved for conducting large-scale clinical studies in humans. Because you first need to obtain permission for the use of gene therapy, and it involves a lot of legal hassle. Therefore, the appearance of a new method in clinical practice may be greatly delayed.

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