The team first developed a signaling protein and inserted it into the brains of paralyzed animals, stimulating their nerve cells to regenerate, and has now shared the recipe for its creation with the entire scientific community. Spinal cord injuries are one of the most debilitating, damaged nerve fibers, or axons, are then unable to transmit signals between the brain and muscles, which often results in lower limb paralysis. What's worse, the condition is permanent because the nerve fibers cannot regenerate, or at least until recently.
Previous studies had shown quite promising results in restoring limb functionality through spinal cord stimulation therapy, bypassing the site of damage, or even transplanting previously regenerated nerve fibers, but German scientists from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) took a completely different path. They have set themselves the goals of repairing damaged axons with a protein they call hyper-interleukin-6 (hIL-6). It is a synthetic version of naturally occurring peptides that have been genetically engineered and modified to stimulate the regeneration of nerve cells.
During their study, the team tested hIL-6 in mice that suffered from complete damage to the spinal cord, resulting in a complete loss of hindlimb control. They packed their protein into a popular carrier and implanted it in the area of the motor cortex, which, as it turned out, not only caused hIL-6 to be naturally produced by neurons around the puncture site, but also transferred to other neurons responsible for actions such as walking. As a result, within 2-3 weeks the mice regained control of their hind legs, often with just one injection. This was surprisingly surprising to them, the researchers said, because it had never been possible before in the case of complete paralysis. It cannot be denied that although this is only an early stage of research, the results are promising and cybernews.world remains to be hoped that scientists will quickly come to human testing.