Paralysis: researchers make a major breakthrough

2023-09-22 16:04:23

Swiss scientists have cured paralyzed mice using gene therapy that effectively regenerated neurons in a completely ruptured spinal cord. According to the researchers, many obstacles still need to be overcome before this therapy can be applied to humans.

Mice with complete spinal cord damage have regained their motor skills, said a press release from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) on Friday.

Gene therapy was developed by scientists from the Lausanne research institute NeuroRestore, whose study produced results published Thursday evening in the specialist journal “Science”.

The cured mice showed mobility similar to that of rodents that spontaneously relearned to walk following an incomplete spinal cord injury, the press release specifies. In these rodents, as in humans, spontaneous healings can only occur when the spinal cord injury is incomplete, he emphasizes.

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According to EPFL, researchers have already started to develop technology that should make it possible to apply this gene therapy in humans.

Five years ago, Lausanne scientists also managed to stimulate the growth of nerve cells on a completely severed spinal cord. “But contrary to our expectations, none of the animals acquired the ability to walk,” said study author Mark Anderson from EPFL.

In May, another team of researchers from Lausanne achieved a scientific breakthrough in the healing of paralyzed people. They managed to get a paraplegic man to walk once more.

Independent researchers, however, have warned once morest false hopes. “As always with such spectacular individual reports, one cannot seriously conclude that there is a solution that would extend to other affected people,” Winfried May of the Austrian Society for Biomedical Technology said of the study.

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