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New Spinal Cord Treatment In Development

A new gene medication designed to treat spinal cord injuries has shown promising results in trials. News Medical reported that researchers at Kazan Federal University are now looking for investment for pre-clinical trials.

The treatment uses two genes and has shown promise in rats, allowing them to recover motor function and start using previously paralysed limbs again.

Researchers have been focusing their attention on limiting the growth of cicatrix, a connective tissue that forms around spinal cord injuries after they occur. This in turn prevents the further growth of axons, which are needed to recover from such injuries.

As a result, the scientists at Kazan Federal University have been looking at two genes for their treatment: VEGF and FGF2. The news provider explained that VEGF has been proven to “normalise blood flow after traumas, support neuron survivability and stimulate vessel and axon growth”. FGF2, meanwhile, helps the body develop nervous fibers.

Head of the Gene and Cell Technology Lab at the university Albert Rizvanov explained that both these genes are already present in the body. What the treatment does is “modify a part of nervous cells and ‘program’ them for increased growth and regeneration”.

The next stage is pre-clinical trials, followed by full clinical trials if the medication is proven to be effective and safe for use in humans.

Last month, Japan gave the go-ahead for stem cell therapy to treat spinal cord injuries. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare approved the first clinical trials in the world using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The research will be carried out later this year by a team at Keio University.

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