Most people with spinal cord injury are paralyzed from the injury site down, even when the cord isn’t completely severed. Why don’t the spared portions of the spinal cord keep working? Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital now provide insight into why these nerve pathways remain quiet. They also show that a small-molecule compound, given systemically, can revive these circuits in paralyzed mice, restoring their ability to walk.
The study, led by Zhigang He, PhD, in Boston Children’s F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, was published online July 19 by the journal Cell.
“For this fairly severe type of spinal cord injury, this is most significant functional recovery we know of,” says He. “We saw 80 percent of mice treated with this compound recover their stepping ability.”