A drug that can encourage nerves in the spinal cord to grow and repair injuries has been developed by US scientists. The study on rats, published in the journal Nature, showed some degree of movement and bladder control could be restored. The drug works by disrupting the “sticky glue” that prevents nerve cells from growing during an injury.
Further tests still need to take place, but the charity Spinal Research said “real progress” was being made. Damage to the spinal cord interrupts the constant stream of electrical signals from the brain to the body. It can lead to paralysis below an injury. The team at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, in Ohio, said scar tissue that formed after an injury prevented spinal cord repair. Sugary proteins are released by the scar tissue which act like glue. The long spindly part of the nerve – the axon – gets trapped in the glue if it tries to cross the site of the injury.