Recent tests with mice are making important progress. As far as the spinal cord is concerned, cells have already been regenerated.
Still the system has not been implanted in humans, it is being tested with mice.
Research on the spinal cord
Tests have been conducted by researchers from the United States, who have achieved the regeneration of mature nerve cells in the spinal cord of mice.
The findings show how the so-called glial cells, the most abundant in our nervous system, can be transformed into more primitive cells. These new cells will become adult nerve cells.
This regeneration of mature nerve cells is an important achievement that would translate into better therapies for patients with spinal cord injuries.
One of the authors of the study, Chun-Li Zhang, has stated that they have laid the groundwork for regenerative medicine for spinal cord injuries.
The cell regeneration can be manipulated to get the creation of new nerve cells, after an injury in the marrow.
Once confirmed in future studies, these strategies will pave the way for using the patient’s own glial cells. This would avoid transplants and the need for an Inmon-Supre Sor therapy.
Injuries to the spinal cord
As we know, injuries to the spinal cord can cause irreversible damage to the neural network. In more severe cases, motor and sensory functions may even be compromised.
It is necessary to remember that it is not necessary that the spinal cord undergoes a complete section, to suffer a loss of function. It is very common that, after a spinal cord injury, most of the marrow remains intact.
Contrary to what one might think, spinal cord injury is not always directly related to back or neck injuries. This is the case of ruptures of disks, pathologies of the column, etc.
It is perfectly possible that there is an injury to the neck or back, and the spinal cord is not damaged.
Grants at the National Center for Paraplegics
In Toledo is the National Hospital of Paraplegics, dependent on the Health Service of Castilla-La Mancha (Spain). This Center has received five million euros from the European Commission.
The project of this Hospital, for which the funds have been donated, is called Neurofibres.
The aim is to study and develop biofunctionalized electroconductive microfibers for the treatment of spinal cord injury.
This is one of the twelve projects chosen from more than 200 that were submitted to the European Program of Emerging Technologies of the Future (FET).
Dr. Jorge Eduardo Collazos directs and coordinates this project, aided by the participation of a consortium of seven research groups from six European countries.
In addition, he directs, the Laboratory of Neural Repair and Biomaterials of the National Paraplegic Hospital.
The duration of Neurofibers is four years, from January 2017 to December 2020.
The development of devices that serve as a biologically safe and effective electroactive support for the regeneration of the Central Nervous System is sought.
Also for the activation of neural circuits in the spinal cord.
The field of work of Neurofibres will be double: on the one hand, the improvement of the properties of the microfibers. The second front is the investigation of the usefulness of this leading technology to promote neural growth.
The coordinators of the project have stated that the scope of study will focus on:
- Tests to check their biocompatibility.
- The regenerative responses of nerve tissue.
- The functional recovery in the motor and sensory aspects.
In this project the participation of surgeons is important. They will be able to develop new complex surgical techniques.
In short, these techniques will make possible the success of the project.
Neuroprosthesis from microfiber
With these new micro fibers, more effective neuro proses will be made, for example, for their integration into the spinal cord.
Among the advantages of these microfibers is a greater sensitivity in stimulating and receiving signals from neurons against the use of metal electrodes.
In addition, the damage produced is less.
Microfibers have enormous potential yet to be discovered and evolved. At the same time that they can regenerate the tissues, they also manage to activate the growth of the glia and the neurons.