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Spinal Cord Injury Press Releases

New role identified for scars at the site of injured spinal cord

New role identified for scars at the site of injured spinal cord
Friday, Apr 8, 2016
For decades, it was thought that scar-forming cells called astrocytes were responsible for blocking neuronal regrowth across the level of spinal cord injury, but recent findings challenge this idea. According to a new mouse study, astrocyte scars may actually be required for repair and regrowth following spinal cord injury. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, and published in Nature.

Breaking Through Impenetrable Barriers area

Barrier breaking drug may lead to spinal cord injury treatments
Wednesday, Dec 3, 2014
Injections of a new drug may partially relieve paralyzing spinal cord injuries, based on indications from a study in rats, which was partly funded by the National Institutes of Health.

A man with an incomplete spinal injury learning to adjust his reflexes.

Reflex control could improve walking after incomplete spinal injuries
Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013
A training regimen to adjust the body’s motor reflexes may help improve mobility for some people with incomplete spinal cord injuries, according to a study funded by NINDS. During training, participants were instructed to suppress a reflex elicited by a small shock to the leg. Those who were able to calm hyperactive reflexes – a common effect of spinal cord injuries – saw improvements in their walking.

Society for Neuroscience 2012 meeting logo

Breaking News from Society for Neuroscience 2012
Wednesday, Oct 17, 2012
Hundreds of NIH-funded studies are being presented at the 2012 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. Here, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has highlighted a selection of studies and events led by our grantees.

Mice running in a maze

NIH–sponsored workshop calls for more detailed reporting in animal studies
Wednesday, Oct 10, 2012
A workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has produced a set of consensus recommendations to improve the design and reporting of animal studies. By making animal studies easier to replicate and interpret, the workshop recommendations are expected to help funnel promising therapies to patients.

Woman using BrainGate to drink with robotic arm

Paralyzed individuals use thought-controlled robotic arm to reach and grasp
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
A trial funded in part by NIH is evaluating the BrainGate neural interface system, an investigational device intended to put robotics and other assistive technology under the brain's control. Two trial participants – both paralyzed by stroke years ago – learned to use the BrainGate to make complex reach-and-grasp movements with a robotic arm, simply by imagining they were using their own arms.

NINDS small logo

Brain-activated muscle stimulation restores monkeys’ hand movement after paralysis
Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012
An artificial connection between the brain and muscles can restore complex hand movements in monkeys following paralysis. Researchers developed a neuroprosthetic system that uses a brain-computer interface (BCI) to provide functional electric stimulation (FES) to paralyzed muscles in the arm, allowing brain-controlled muscle contactions and restoring movement.

NINDS Logo thumbnail

Members of new Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee announced
Monday, Feb 13, 2012
NIH announced the members of the new Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee chaired by NINDS Director Story Landis, Ph.D. The IPRCC includes researchers, members of nonprofit public advocacy organizations, and representatives from 7 federal agencies that deal with pain research and patient care.

Motor neurons derived from human iPS cells

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Give Investigators a New Window into Neurological Disease
Friday, Jun 24, 2011
It is possible to take a sample of skin cells and induce them to behave like embryonic stem cells. Scientists are using these so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to study disease mechanisms and test potential therapeutic drugs. In 2009, NINDS funded three consortia to develop iPS cell lines from individuals with Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s disease.

Mr. Summers is supported by hand rails and physical therapists as he attempts to stand with the aid of epidural stimulation.

In NIH-Funded Trial, Man with Spinal Cord Injury Stands after Specialized Physical Therapy and Spinal Stimulation
Friday, May 20, 2011
After intensive physical therapy and electric stimulation to the spine, a man with a paralyzing spinal cord injury has recovered the ability to stand. He is the first of five individuals being studied in an NIH-funded trial of this approach, led by scientists at the University of Louisville and UCLA.

A micrograph showing scar tissue in the injured rat spinal cord.

Cancer Drug Could Be Repurposed to Treat Spinal Cord Injuries
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Research shows that the chemotherapy drug taxol (also called paclitaxel) could help improve recovery from spinal cord injuries. Writing in Science,* a team led by Frank Bradke, Ph.D., of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, Germany reports that taxol helps repair spinal connections and improves walking in rats with spinal cord damage.

A model of the vertebrae that protect the spinal cord.

Spinal Cord Injury, Spasms, and Serotonin
Monday, Sep 20, 2010
When people think of spinal cord injury, they tend to think of paralysis. But a spinal cord injury can also cause debilitating muscle spasms. Although the drug baclofen can control these spasms, many patients cannot tolerate its side effects. A new study sheds light on how a spinal cord injury leads to spasms, and on the promise of more precisely targeted drugs with fewer side effects.

Neuron with glia

Spinal Cord Injury – Therapeutic Strategies May Need to Include Repairing Myelin
Monday, Sep 13, 2010
In a study in animals, researchers have shown they can improve recovery from spinal cord injuries through an infusion of cells that help rebuild the myelin sheath – a covering around nerve fibers. Despite efforts by many investigators to develop therapies that target myelin, there has been a lack of consensus about the extent to which myelin loss has functional consequences in spinal cord injury.

Combination Therapy Stimulates Spinal Cord Regeneration in Rats More Than One Year after Injury
Monday, Feb 1, 2010
In a study on animals, researchers found that a combination of treatments can stimulate the growth of severed axons (nerve fibers) across an injured spinal cord, even when the treatments are delayed for more than a year.

Study Suggests Improved Treatments for Neuropathic Pain
Thursday, Jun 26, 2008
Two chemicals associated with neurodegeneration and inflammation play important and distinct roles in development of neuropathic pain, a new study shows.  The findings may lead to new treatments that can stop neuropathic pain from developing and alleviate it after it begins.

Nanotech Treatment Shows Promise against Spinal Cord Injury in Mice
Monday, May 19, 2008
In experiments on mice, scientists have shown that an injectable nanotech-based polymer stimulates axons to regrow all the way across a spinal injury.

Javits Neuroscience Award Presented to Six Leading Scientists
Wednesday, Jul 12, 2006
Six outstanding scientists who target neurological disorders at the cellular and molecular level were recently awarded the prestigious Senator Jacob Javits Award in the Neurosciences. The award provides for up to seven years of research funding from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the nation’s leading agency for research on the brain and nervous system and a component of the National Institutes of Health.

Neurons Grown From Embryonic Stem Cells Restore Function In Paralyzed Rats
Tuesday, Jun 20, 2006
For the first time, researchers have enticed transplants of embryonic stem cell-derived motor neurons in the spinal cord to connect with muscles and partially restore function in paralyzed animals. The study suggests that similar techniques may be useful for treating such disorders as spinal cord injury, transverse myelitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and spinal muscular atrophy. The study was funded in part by the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Drug Prevents Brain Swelling After Stroke
Wednesday, Jun 14, 2006
A drug long used to treat diabetes significantly reduces brain swelling, neuron loss, and death after stroke in rats, researchers have found. The finding may lead to improved ways of treating stroke and other disorders in humans.

Economic Benefit of NINDS-Supported Clinical Trials Estimated at More Than $15 Billion Over Ten Years
Thursday, Apr 20, 2006
A comprehensive review of all phase III clinical trials supported by one Federal agency finds that, estimated conservatively, the economic benefit in the United States from just eight of these trials exceeded $15 billion over the course of 10 years. The study also found that new discoveries from the trials were responsible for an estimated additional 470,000 healthy years of life. The clinical trials were sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

Epilepsy Can Be Triggered by Support Cells in the Brain
Thursday, Dec 15, 2005
For decades, researchers have tried to understand what triggers clusters of neurons to begin signaling excessively in epilepsy. A new study shows that, in many cases, the answer resides in star-shaped support cells called astrocytes. The finding may lead to new ways of treating epilepsy.

Combination Therapy Leads to Partial Recovery from Spinal Cord Injury in Rats
Tuesday, Jul 26, 2005
Combining partially differentiated stem cells with gene therapy can promote the growth of new "insulation" around nerve fibers in the damaged spinal cords of rats, a new study shows. The treatment, which mimics the activity of two nerve growth factors, also improves the animals' motor function and electrical conduction from the brain to the leg muscles. The finding may eventually lead to new ways of treating spinal cord injury in humans.

TROY: A Newly Identified Stop Signal in the Pathway for Nerve Regeneration
Wednesday, Mar 9, 2005
One of the major puzzles in neuroscience is how to get nerves in the brain and spinal cord to regrow after injury. A new study has identified a protein, TROY, that inhibits nerve cell repair and plays a role in preventing nerve regeneration. This finding is an important step in developing new methods for treatment of spinal cord injury, stroke, and degenerative nerve disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS).

Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award Recognizes Eight Exemplary Scientists
Wednesday, Nov 10, 2004
Eight noted investigators have been awarded the prestigious Senator Jacob Javits Award in the Neurosciences, which provides for up to seven years of research funding from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The award, which honors the late U.S. Senator Jacob Javits, is presented to investigators who have demonstrated exceptional scientific excellence and productivity in research areas supported by the NINDS and who are expected to conduct cutting-edge research over the next seven years.

Combination Therapy Dramatically Improves Function After Spinal Cord Injury in Rats
Sunday, May 23, 2004
A combination therapy using transplanted cells plus two experimental drugs significantly improves function in paralyzed rats, a new study shows. The results suggest that a similar therapy may be useful in humans with spinal cord injury.
Fact Sheet

Signaling Molecule Improves Nerve Cell Regeneration in Rats
Thursday, Aug 29, 2002
Scientists have made a key discovery that could lead to a new treatment for spinal cord injuries. Two research teams have found that a dose of a signaling molecule called cyclic AMP (cAMP) given before an induced injury causes damaged nerve cells to grow new fibers. This finding takes researchers a step closer to understanding and possibly treating paralysis in humans.
Fact Sheet

Rewiring the Brain: A Natural Chemical Improves Motor Skills After Stroke
Monday, Aug 12, 2002
A new study shows that a chemical naturally produced by the body helps improve motor skills after a stroke by stimulating undamaged nerve fibers to grow new connections in the brain and spinal cord. Researchers say that infusions of this chemical, called inosine, substantially improves brain function following strokes in rats. The study suggests a new potential for stroke treatment amid ongoing research efforts.
Fact Sheet

Delayed Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury May Improve Recovery
Saturday, Dec 1, 2001
Rats given an experimental therapy several weeks after their spinal cords were severed showed dramatically greater regrowth of nerve fibers and recovery of function than rats treated immediately after injury, a new study shows. The report suggests that the window of opportunity for treating spinal cord injury may be wider than previously anticipated.
Fact Sheet

Manipulating A Single Gene Dramatically Improves Regeneration in Adult Neurons: Finding May Lead to New Approaches for Treating Brain and Spinal Cord Damage
Sunday, Jul 1, 2001
Increasing the expression of a single gene that is important during development dramatically improves the ability of adult neurons to regenerate, a new study shows. The finding suggests that intrinsic properties of neurons play an important role in controlling neuronal regeneration and may lead to new approaches for treating damage from stroke, spinal cord injury, and other neurological conditions.

Prolonged Treatment with Methylprednisolone Improves Recovery in Spinal Cord Injured Patients
Tuesday, May 27, 1997
Since 1990, thousands of spinal cord injured patients have received the first effective treatment for acute injury. Now, a new study shows that giving the drug for a longer period of time can significantly improve recovery over the standard treatment.

Scientists Gain New Understanding of CNS Stem Cells: Findings May Lead to Improved Treatments for Parkinson's Disease, Other Disorders
Thursday, Apr 3, 1997
For decades, scientists believed that the adult central nervous system could not repair itself, in part because it lacked fundamental 'stem cells', mother cells that can divide to form other kinds of cells. A series of findings has now shown that stem cells are present in the adult brain and spinal cord, and that they can be grown in culture and directed to act in much the same way as fetal stem cells. These findings provide new hope for people with Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, and a host of other disorders.

NINDS Research Offers Hope for Transplantation and Regeneration
Wednesday, Nov 10, 1993
Age-old dogma held that the central nervous system could not regrow or recover, dampening hopes for recovery from spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders. But recent results from scientists at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) offer a glimpse of how basic research promises approaches for restoring and repairing damaged nerves.