CHICAGO — Animal research is suggesting new ways to aid recovery after spinal cord injury. New studies demonstrate that diet affects recovery rate and show how to make stem cell therapies safer for spinal injury patients. The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2009, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news on brain science and health.
In other animal studies, researchers identified molecules that encourage spinal cord regeneration and ways to block molecules that discourage it. The findings may help shape therapies for the more than one million people in North America who have spinal cord injuries.
Research released today shows that:
Other findings discussed at the meeting show that:
"Some injuries harm nerve cells, but the brain often recovers from stress, damage, or disease," said press conference moderator Oswald Steward, PhD, of the University of California, Irvine, an expert on spinal cord injury and synaptic plasticity. "We are learning a great deal about how to encourage the recovery process and harness the plasticity of the nervous system to offer hope to spinal cord injury patients," Steward said.