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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
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 Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
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.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid