The latest news and information about what's going on with SCI science and research.
I was perusing an article that showed up in my Internet science literature filter on inflammation, in this case in ALS (“Neuronal Phagocytosis by Inflammatory Macrophages in ALS Spinal Cord: Inhibition of Inflammation by resolvin D1
.”). Resolvin mutes inflammation; the course of disease improves. Curious whether there was spillover to spinal cord trauma, which of course involves inflammation and immune response, I wrote to Milan Fiala, M.D. at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, the paper’s primary contact. “Look under Docosahexaenoic acid in brain trauma TBI etc.,” he said. “The Army is doing a lot of work with this.” Read More
Geron’s out of the picture now, having quit its embryonic stem cell safety trial for acute spinal cord injury last fall after enrolling just five patients. No official reports but four of the five who got the cells have more or less gone public: no harm. No significant gain, either. The company is moving ahead with trials of imetelstat, a maintenance drug for advanced lung cancer.
Meanwhile, stem cell clinical research for spinal cord trauma continues on several fronts. Our collective minds’ eye may think of stem cells as replacements for broken ones in the spinal cord. Most scientists I’ve talked to think stem cells will be more useful as chemical conditioners and stabilizers, not spare parts.
Here is a mid-year update. Read More
Motor axons are long nerve cables, or processes, that start in brain cells, or neurons, and course the spinal cord to form synapses (connections) with muscle. Brain says move, message goes down the motor axon to the motor, muscle fires. Of course spinal cord injury destroys these axons; the mother nerve cell survives, up in the brain stem. But the broken cable cuts off brain-to-muscle control, which leads to paralysis. Read More
This is one of those stories you really can’t miss hearing about. Rats with spinal cord injuries get better, learn to sprint up steps after specialized rehab. It got picked up by all the major newspapers and science news sources. The images and videos are irresistible: the rat girl wears a black vest hooked up to a little crane device overhead; she’s on her hind legs, seeming to thrust herself forward, eyes intent on an unseen treat (we learn later it’s Swiss chocolate, and we also learn that this motivation is a critical part of the experiment); in videos, the rat is indeed dashing up a set of steps or over a hurdle. Read More