Spinal cord injuries (SCIs) can have devastating consequences that are difficult to reverse. Researchers are actively pursuing ways to restore movement and sensation to SCI patients. Blocking a protein involved in cell death could be one way to treat SCIs, according to a report in the April issue of Nature Medicine.
Ana Martin-Villalba and coworkers targeted a protein called CD95L, part of a system that causes cells to self-destruct. Patients' prognoses depend in part on how much secondary damage is caused by this cell-death system. The researchers simulated injuries in patients by cutting the spinal cords of mice and paralyzing them. When the researchers used antibodies to block CD95L, significantly fewer cells died, and the injured nerve cells were able to regenerate, allowing the once-paralyzed mice to recover their motor ability.
Treatment of SCI is a complex problem that will probably require multiple therapies, but the authors suggest that blocking CD95L might be one potential treatment.
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