Researchers claim to have developed an innovative surgical procedure that helps to repair the severed nerves within minutes, which could help patients to recover within days or weeks.
The study, led by researcher George Bittner, professor at University of Texas, used a cellular mechanism similar to that of many invertebrates to repair damage to axons, an extension of the nerve cell that chats with other nerve cells or with muscles.
Advertisement"We have developed a procedure which can repair severed nerves within minutes so that the behaviour they control can be partially restored within days and often largely restored within two to four weeks," said Bittner, the Journal of Neuroscience Research reported.
"If further developed in clinical trials this approach would be a great advance on current procedures that usually imperfectly restore lost function within months at best," added Bittner, according to a university statement.
This research success arises from Bittner's discovery that nerve axons of invertebrates severed from their cell body do not degenerate within days, as happens with mammals, but can survive for months, or even years.
"Severed invertebrate nerve axons can reconnect...within seven days, allowing a rate of behavioural recovery that is far superior to mammals," said Bittner.
Bittner's team were able to repair severed sciatic nerves in the upper thigh, with results showing the rats were able to use their limb within a week and had much function restored within two to four weeks, in some cases to almost full function.
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