THURSDAY, July 15, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Scientists have been able to produce significant regeneration of nerve cells in rats with spinal cord injuries, a breakthrough that could help overcome one of the barriers in treating such injuries in humans.
A combination of therapies and cell grafts successfully stimulated the growth of new nerve fibers called axons, Dr. Mark Tuszynski, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, San Diego, said in a statement.
The axons extended through implanted tissue grafts and into the spinal cord and healthy tissue surrounding the injury site, Tuszynski said.
Axons are critical communication paths from nerve cells, with many sensory axons extending from the spine to the brain. When the spine is severely damaged, that connection is lost.
To make matters worse, fluid usually fills the gap between broken axons, presenting an additional barrier to axon regeneration.
The study appears in the July 14 issue of the Journal of Neurosciences.
The National Institutes of Health has more about spinal cord injury.