News / Science & Technology

Experimental Drug Helps Mice With Spinal Cord Injuries

A researcher observes a rat walking on its hind legs during an experiment involving spinal cord injuries, at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and Brain Mind Institute in Ecublens, Switzerland, May 31, 2012.A researcher observes a rat walking on its hind legs during an experiment involving spinal cord injuries, at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and Brain Mind Institute in Ecublens, Switzerland, May 31, 2012.
x
A researcher observes a rat walking on its hind legs during an experiment involving spinal cord injuries, at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and Brain Mind Institute in Ecublens, Switzerland, May 31, 2012.
A researcher observes a rat walking on its hind legs during an experiment involving spinal cord injuries, at the Center for Neuroprosthetics and Brain Mind Institute in Ecublens, Switzerland, May 31, 2012.
Jessica Berman
Millions of people around the world suffer from severe spinal cord injuries that result in permanent loss of control of their arms or legs, or loss of bladder, bowel or sexual functions. Now, US researchers have developed an oral medication that offers hope that some of these lost functions could be regained. When given to laboratory mice shortly after a spinal cord injury, the drug restored the animals' mobility.

The experimental drug, called LM11A-31, works by blocking the release of a protein that after spinal cord injuries destroys oligodendrocytes, which are nerve cells that surround and protect axons. Axons are the long, thread-like nerve-cell projections that help transmit motor impulses between the brain and the rest of the body.

In experiments with mice with crippling spinal cord injuries similar to those seen in humans, the drug overcame a major hurdle in conventional therapies. The compound easily crossed the blood-brain barrier - the natural partition that protects the brain from potentially harmful foreign substances in the bloodstream - and prevented the normal post-injury die-off of oligodendrocytes.  

Sung Ok Yoon, a molecular biologist at Ohio State University Columbus, led the study. Four hours after the mice were injured, Yoon said, researchers began giving them three different doses of LM11A-31.

“We looked at their walking behavior. And the second thing we did [is a] non-weight-bearing test, which is a swimming test, because once you are injured it is hard for them to bear the weight of their body," said Yoon. "So in [the swimming] test, they don’t have to. So maybe we can look at properties of motor control or motion that is not affected by the weight-bearing ability.”

Treatment with the compound lasted 42 days. Yoon said animals receiving the highest dose of the drug could eventually walk and move their limbs in a coordinated fashion.

It takes up to a year for oligodendrocytes to die, said Yoon, who added that she hopes to conduct further experiments to see how effective LM11A-31 is if not given until weeks or months after an injury has occurred.  

Currently, the main treatment for reducing paralysis from spinal cord injury is an anti-inflammatory drug called methylprednisolone. It must be administered within eight hours but not more than 24 hours after an injury to be effective.

Yoon said she also would like to conduct additional experiments to see whether LM11A-31 improves current treatments for spinal cord injury.

“So if this drug is beneficial, maybe it could be used in conjunction with current therapy and improve some function,” she said.

Some crippling autoimmune diseases, including Guillain-Barre syndrome and multiple sclerosis, also involve the destruction of protective cells surrounding axons. Yoon believes it is possible LM11A-31 could be helpful in the treatment of those conditions, as well.

Yoon and colleagues at the University of California in San Francisco published their work in The Journal of Neuroscience.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: carlos angulo
January 22, 2013 1:40 AM
I'm a C5 Quadraplegic and this fails to give me hope. I have seen countless experiments done on animals like dogs, monkeys even rats but never done on a human. This info is useless to me. Why hasen't any of the millions of treatments done on rats that get them walking again be done on a human being? It's good enough for a rat but not a human? You bums probly need more money so you show a rat walking and boast "Ooooh look what we did, now give us more money." I hope your kids get paralysed, then maybe you'll try harder to find the cure.

by: Carlos Angulo
January 13, 2013 1:44 AM
More useless info, wow a rat walks again big damn deal. When I see a human walk again then it will be news.
In Response

by: Carlos Angulo
January 20, 2013 9:48 PM
Listen, I'm a C-5 quadraplegic and I am sick and tired of seeing rats, monkeys and dogs regaining function in their lower extremities. It provides me with no hope of ever walking again because I've seen it done countless times and the exact treatment given to a rat ain't good enough for a human. When a paralyzed person starts walking again, then it will be news. Until then, this info is useless.
In Response

by: Daniela
January 14, 2013 2:37 PM
Wow, that was rude. You have to start small, and this is a step in an incredible direction.

By the way, is there going to be audio for this article?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs