The body's response after a spinal cord injury often causes collateral damage, including cell death and ultimately paralysis. German researchers, funded by the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, report that they have discovered at least one weapon the body may use against itself: the cellular membrane-bound ligand known as CD95L or FasL.

In mice, blocking this ligand with antibodies after severing the spinal cord preserves oligodendrocytes and neurons and promotes axonal regeneration.1 This leads to what Ana Martin-Villalba of the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, calls a dramatic difference between untreated and treated mice, "You see a mouse that isn't able to move and you see one that is moving; it's a great functional improvement." The team now seeks the mechanisms by which CD95L works, in particular, identifying which of the cells that express CD95L cause the damage. Prime suspects include T cells migrating to the injury site as...

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