The study of a type of roundworm – C. elegans – is providing researchers with a platform to investigate how to fast-track the regeneration of central nervous system brain cells that can serve as a cure for people suffering from spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
In a study which was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on April 26, 2016, Boston University School of Medicine researcher and lead author Christopher Gabel PhD, said, “We describe a new type of neuron regeneration in C. elegans that is independent of previously discovered regeneration pathways.”
Gabel, who is the assistant professor of physiology and biophysics at BUSM added, “At the end of development, neurons in the adult human CNS, such as the brain and spinal cord, lose their ability to effectively regenerate in response to injury. But, when two lesions are made to the same neuron, remarkably, some cells in the human CNS robustly regenerate – a phenomenon known as lesion conditioning and which was strikingly similar to what we saw in our elements with C. elegans.”
The website of Crowe & Mulvey, LLP says that when a person has incurred a spinal cord injury, he should expect that every aspect of his life would be affected by this phenomenon. For instance, if one gets injured at the lowest part of the spinal cord – which is referred to as the neurological level of the spine – a person experience either complete paralysis (loss of all sensory and motor functions below the spinal cord injury) or incomplete paralysis (loss but not total loss of sensory and motor functions below the affected area in the sense that some feelings and some motor functions can still be felt and exercised, respectively).
Among the most common impacts of a spinal cord injury include loss of movement, sensation which includes the ability to feel cold and heat, and bowel or bladder control; pain or an intense stinging sensation due to the damage incurred by the spinal cord; and difficulty in breathing and in expelling secretions from one’s lungs.