Hope for Spinal Cord Injuries



Gene Therapy Reversing Spinal Cord Injuries
Gene therapy, which is an experimental technique that uses genes to treat or prevent disease, shows promise in treating many ailments.  Those ailments include epilepsy, cancer, Parkinson's, osteoarthritis, asthma and much more.  Now researchers at King College London have shown that rats with spinal cord injuries can relearn skilled hand movements after receiving gene therapy.  The scientists believe the same will apply to humans.

No Regenerative Treatment, Now Hope
At this time, there are no regenerative treatments for spinal cord injuries.  Researchers are now testing a new gene therapy for regenerating damaged tissues in the spinal cord.  The new gene therapy can be switched on and off using antibiotics.  With this technique, it's now possible to treat large damaged areas with one injection and turn the gene off when no longer needed.

New Nerve Connections
A key problem in spinal injuries is dense scar tissue.  This prevents new connections from being formed between nerve cells.   Gene therapy remedies this by producing enzymes that break down the scar tissue and allow nerve cells to regenerate.

Rat & Human Connections 
Because rats and humans have similar sequences of movement, the rats' ability to reach and grasp after gene therapy is a real breakthrough. Next steps:  human trials and if all goes well, the technique offers real hope for spinal cord sufferers.