Researchers affiliated with Northwestern University in the state of Illinois, United States, developed a single-shot injectable therapy that repairs tissues after spinal cord injuries as trial tests on mice have proven to be successful.
“Our research aims to find a therapy that can prevent individuals from becoming paralyzed after major trauma or disease,” says Northwestern University researcher Samuel I. Stupp, who led the study. “For decades, this has remained a major challenge for scientists because our body’s central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, does not have any significant capacity to repair itself after injury or after the onset of a degenerative disease.”
“Dancing molecules” are harnessed and administered in a single injection around the spinal cord of paralyzed mice. Within four months, the animals could walk again. Bioactive signals are sent to trigger cells to regenerate and repair the damaged area. Through the therapy, severed extensions of neurons regenerated, scar tissue significantly diminished, myelin reformed around cells, functional blood vessels formed to deliver nutrients to cells at the injured site, and more motor neurons survived. The material injected into the body biodegrades in 12 weeks and disappears completely. Aside from preventing paralysis from major trauma, the “supramolecular motion” could also be useful for brains affected by strokes or neurodegenerative diseases like ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.