Repairing broken nerves


You have asked about this one. This is not multiple sclerosis but spinal cord injury. In this study they induced a spinal cord injury in animals and injected a scaffolding gel into the nerve injury and the mice showed repair.

You can get the information from the scientists themselves, as they have produced a video, but be warned it contains some videos of spinal injured animals

Álvarez Z, Kolberg-Edelbrock AN, Sasselli IR, Ortega JA, Qiu R, Syrgiannis Z, Mirau PA, Chen F, Chin SM, Weigand S, Kiskinis E, Stupp SI. Bioactive scaffolds with enhanced supramolecular motion promote recovery from spinal cord injury. Science. 2021 Nov 12;374(6569):848-856.

In this paper they synthesized supramolecular peptide fibril scaffolds bearing two elements to promote nerve regeneration, one that reduces glial scarring and another that promotes blood vessel formation. In a mouse model of paralyzing human spinal cord injury. Genetic variants of the nerve promoting elements by promoting intense supramolecular motion within the fibrils and lead to corticospinal axon regrowth and myelination, blood vessel formation and neuron survival.

The spinal cord lesion was a contusion so the spinal cord was hit to cause damage and the scaffolding molecule forming a gel was injected into the damage site. You cant see evidence of the injury site in the video so this must have been some time after the injury. As you can see there is more movement in the treated animals, but it is not back to normal. The rodents are remarkable how they recover and even without treatment there is some element of recovery. I have seen this but clearly the scafolding gel is doing much more.

Even if this approach is the answer for spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis is a muh harder prospect. In spinal injury you know when the injury occuring and you can attempt repair straight away as occuring most of the studies here, Therefore you start repair before too much damage has accumulated and the damage occurs in one spot.

We will need to come back in a few years to see if this has progressed to human studies and I must say one would like to see it work in spinal cord injury, before being tried in MS. This is because MS is a much more complicated issue. In MS the damage occures at multiple spots and the disease process needs to be stopped otherwise you may get damage into the sites repaired. Also the glial scar that has developed can be a barrier to repair. However, they did look a myelination for the gel months after the damage and found some benefit so encouraging. I guess we have to “watch this space”

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