Spinal-cord section is untreatable because the severed nerve fibers cannot regrow through chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans rich scar tissue. In April 11 Nature, Elizabeth Bradbury and colleagues from Kings College London, show that a bacterial enzyme degrading chondroitin sulfate (chondroitinase ABC –ChABC), promotes functional recovery after spinal cord injury in rats (Nature 2002, 416:636-640).

Bradbury et al. delivered intratechal ChABC to the lesioned dorsal columns of adult rats. They found that ChABC degraded chondroitin sulfate-GAG at the injury site, upregulated a regeneration-associated protein in injured neurons and promoted regeneration of both ascending sensory projections and descending corticospinal tract axons.

In addition, ChABC treatment restored post-synaptic activity below the lesion after electrical stimulation of corticospinal neurons, and promoted functional recovery of locomotor and proprioceptive behaviors.

"Treatment with chondroitinase ABC has also proved effective in treating brain injuries, and constitutes one hopeful avenue to promoting nerve regeneration" wrote...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?