In an amazing new discovery (ScienceDaily), Researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Michigan have been able to regrow damaged nerve cells in lab rats. The researchers used an enzyme called sialidase from bacteria to treat the rats’ spinal cords.
There is hope that the proceedure will also work on other types of spinal cord injuries.
The experimental injury in the rats mimiced a common injury in humans whereby an arm is wrenched away from the body, tearing away nerve fibres from the spinal cord. This type of injury can have many complications and usually requires amputation. The sialidase treated rats were shown to have grown new nerve cells as compared with untreated rats.
The rats were anaesthetized, and nerves in their shoulders were severed. A nerve from their hind legs was transplanted and then they were treated with various experimental enzymes. The group treated with sialidase grew the most new nerve fibres.
The tissues surrounding our nerve cells send signals to the nerves to stop them from growing. It is a system which keeps our highly complicated nervous system from growing out of control. Sialidase destroys one of the chemical signals that inhibits nerve growth.