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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid