News / Health

Researchers Restore Bladder Control in Paralyzed Rats

Jessica Berman
Researchers have developed a promising technique that may some day restore bladder function in people with paralysis. They have regenerated nerves involved in bladder control in rats with spinal cord injuries, making it possible for the animals to urinate normally again.

The loss of bladder function is one of the most serious problems afflicting people with severe spinal cord injury.  

Their bladders are no longer able to work properly because motor signals from the brain stem where the command center for urination is located are disrupted.  When the nerves are severely damaged, the brain is no longer able to tell the bladder to squeeze and relax in order to pass urine. So, many individuals who are paralyzed must be catheterized to let their urine drain out.  Otherwise, the liquid waste collects in the bladder and backs up to the kidneys, which is fatal.

Researchers at Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University Medical School in Ohio restored urination in rats whose spinal cords were cut.  Scientists regenerated nerves across the 5-mm gap, using a three-step process.  

They bridged the gap with healthy nerves taken from around the animals’ ribs, so there was no tissue rejection.  Next, they applied a chemical called fibroblast growth factor to help the nerve grafts integrate and align to tissue at the injury site and they then delivered an enzyme, called chondroitinase, to limit scarring, which blocks nerve regeneration.  

Jerry Silver of Case Western says nerves sprouted from high up in the brain and grew several centimeters to the injury site.  After three months, according to Silver, researchers began to see some bladder control.  After six months, he says there was a major improvement in the rats’ ability to control urination.

“.. repaired to I would say around two-thirds back to normal. That is not perfect, but I would say is a remarkable improvement,” he said.

After six months, the bladder control didn’t improve further.

Silver points to a similar procedure by a Taiwanese surgeon that restored partial walking in a man who had been injured with a knife. The research was controversial, says Silver, because other scientists couldn’t replicate the results.

In his study, Silver says the procedure restored some partial limb movement.

“We really don’t see much in the way of walking in our animals. They can wiggle their joints but they really don’t walk.  But the recovery of urination was far more interesting and remarkable than their ability to locomote,” he said.

But Silver believes in time, the difficult spinal cord surgery will be perfected to the point where walking can be restored in paralyzed individuals.

An article by Jerry Silver and colleagues on restoring bladder control in paralyzed rats is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

You May Like

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid