A new four-week breakthrough study recently revealed how paralyzed mice were able to walk through the use of nanofibers.

According to a Good News Network report, a "bioactive scaffold," renewed damaged cells in the nervous systems of mice that are paralyzed from spinal cord injuries, enabling them to walk again following treatment of three to four weeks — an astounding feat that has never been achieved before.

This new treatment has opened a gateway into studies on treating paralysis that has never been opened before and could be the subject of Food and Drug Administration trials as early as next year.

Northwestern University's Samuel Stupp, who led the study, said he couldn't tell how excited he was about this project. He added, this is perhaps, the most critical paper he has ever written, and it's describing a piece of science that was undoubtedly unknown.

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Nanofibers Enable Paralyzed Mice to Walk Again: 4-Week Study Reveals How ‘Bioactive Scaffold’ Regenerates Damaged Cells
(Photo: Saltanat ebli on Wikimedia Commons)
In the study, the mice that were paralyzed were injected with fibers one day after their injury to stimulate the time at which victims of spinal cord injury receive treatment.

Spinal Cord Injuries, a 'Game Over'

Generally, spinal cord injuries are considered a "game over," when it comes to normal movement. On average, lesser than three percent of the 300,000 people in the United States living with such injuries will ever recover meaningful use over their legs.

One of the reasons is that the central nervous system is not quite effective in self-repairing, and the scarring that occurs after such an injury is acting as a physical blockage to most regeneration.

In certain circumstances, external electrical stimulation can contribute to the retention of basic functions in the hands and the legs in the treatment program.

In 2019, a separate GNN report also reported the use of "triple nerve transplants," which enabled an Australian quadriplegic to regain the function of his hands.

Injected with Fibers

Instead of inoculating stem cells, proteins, or modified genes to test and program tissues to have themselves repaired, Stupp and his team used nanofibers. Each just "one ten-thousandth' a human hair's width, to emulate something known as "extracurricular matrix," a network of molecules surrounding cells.

Essentially, fibers comprise have peptides, tiny bioactive molecules that transfer signals and promote nerve regeneration.

For this particular trial published in the journal Science, the mice that were paralyzed were injected with fibers one day after their injury to stimulate the time at which victims of spinal cord injury receive treatment.

Four weeks later, the mice were able to walk again, but those given placebo shots couldn't do so.

Axon Layers

When the mice's spinal cords were studied, it was discovered that the axons, the neurons' severed extensions, which in general, fail to repair under normal injury circumstances, were renewed and regenerated. Moreover, the physical blockage of the scar tissue substantially diminished.

Also, the axon layers, which form protective insulation identified as myelin, had itself reformed, as did oxygen-carrying blood vessels, and more neurons survived.

Stupp and the rest of the team hypothesized that it was because the receptors in neurons are constantly moving, and so are the nanofibers. As a result, the extremely busy pairs connected more efficiently.

Stupp is looking to test the work with humans as the nervous systems across animal species are quite similar, and since there is simply nothing else out there to help humans who have lost mobility because of injury from the spinal cord.

Related information about enabling paralyzed mice to walk again is shown on Inside Edition's YouTube video below: 


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