Experimental Regeneration Therapies
For people with an injured spinal cord, numbness, pain, and paralysis may occur due to brain/body damaged communication lines. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have given mice fenofibrate, a cholesterol lowering medication. The drug helps heal the central nervous system’s sensory neurons: “Three days after [injuring the mice's sensory axon branch heading to the CNS] the central branches of the sensory neuron axons had regrown about twice as much in the mice that had received fenofibrate than in those that had received a placebo.”
Senior author of the study, Valeria Cavalli, PhD, commented, “When people think of spinal cord injury, they tend to think of paralysis, but there are a lot of problems with sensory processing and pain after spinal cord injury as well. Addressing those sensory issues could go a long way toward improving quality of life for survivors. Our data indicate that fenofibrate has the potential to activate these support cells and improve recovery, which means we could potentially repurpose this FDA-approved compound to help restore sensory function after nerve injuries.” The researchers plan to combine regeneration promoting therapies with fenofibrate. Dr. Cavalli, who is a professor of biomedical research and neuroscience, said, “It gives us an additional tool to design therapies to restore function after nerve injuries. We haven’t fixed spinal cord injury, but we’re one step closer to figuring out how to do it.”
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