For many years, researchers have thought that the scar that forms after a spinal cord injury actively prevents damaged neurons from regrowing. In a study of rodents, scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health showed they could overcome this barrier and reconnect severed spinal cord nerves by turning back the neurons’ clocks to put them into an early growth state. Once this occurs, neurons could be induced to regrow across the scarred tissue. The research was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of NIH.
“For decades researchers have been trying to make severed neurons regrow across a spinal cord injury and reconnect with neurons on the other side. This study suggests that may require manipulating three key growth processes,” said Lyn Jakeman, Ph.D., program director, NINDS. “These insights are important for understanding the mechanisms of injury and regeneration that may one day be applied to develop potential treatments for spinal cord injury.”