Screen Readers Skip to Content

Promising Spinal-cord Injury Treatment

Published: 2010-05-30
Author: University of Alberta

Synopsis: University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine discovery offers promising research for spinal-cord injury treatments (SCI).

Main Digest

University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine discovery offers promising research for spinal-cord injury treatments (SCI).

In Other News:


Researchers in the University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine have made an important discovery that could lead to more effective treatments for spinal-cord injuries. Karim Fouad and David Bennett have identified one of the body's natural self-repair mechanisms that kick in after injury.

To help understand the discovery the researchers say it is important to first describe the neurons in the spinal cord that control muscle contractions. These neurons represent a fairly autonomous part of the nervous system that control many basic functions such as walking and bladder control. These neurons are brought into a state of readiness by a transmitter called serotonin. Serotonin originates in the brain and projects down the spinal cord where it binds to serotonin receptors on the neurons. This process turns a quiet neuron into one that's ready to respond to fast inputs from the brain.

When someone suffers a spinal-cord injury they can lose almost all serotonin projections, so it was previously thought that the serotonin receptors were inactive. But the U of A researchers found that serotonin receptors are spontaneously active after spinal-cord injury, despite the absence of serotonin. Their study shows that this receptor activity is an essential factor in the recovery of functions like walking. Fouad and Bennett say this significant discovery provides important insight into how the spinal cord responds and changes after an injury, which is essential to developing meaningful treatments.

But, the researchers add, there is a dark side. While the serotonin receptors remain active after injury, they are permanently turned on. Fouad and Bennett say this activity is what contributes to muscle spasms, a common problem for people with severe spinal-cord injury. The pair says the next step in helping patients who won't be able to regain control of muscle contractions is to examine how to block these serotonin receptors to stop the spasms from occurring, in particular by using already available drugs or by designing more targeted drugs.

Fouad and Bennett's research will be published May 30, 2010, in the journal Nature Medicine.

You're reading Disabled World. See our homepage for informative disability news, reviews, sports, stories and how-tos. You can also connect with us on social media such as Twitter and Facebook or learn more about Disabled World on our about us page.

Disclaimer: Disabled World provides general information only. Materials presented are in no way meant to be a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Any 3rd party offering or advertising on disabled-world.com does not constitute endorsement by Disabled World. View our Advertising Policy for further information. Please report outdated or inaccurate information to us.

Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: University of Alberta. Electronic Publication Date: 2010-05-30. Title: Promising Spinal-cord Injury Treatment, Source: <a href=https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/spinal/sci-research.php>Promising Spinal-cord Injury Treatment</a>. Retrieved 2021-07-29, from https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/spinal/sci-research.php - Reference: DW#248-4120.