Neuro scientists say new findings in animals suggest a potential treatment to minimize disability after spinal cord and other nervous system injuries .
"Our approach is based on a natural mechanism cells have for protecting themselves, called the stress protein response," say specialists . Researchers say the goal of their work is to prevent or minimize the "secondary" cell death that occurs in the hours and days after a spinal cord or brain injury. During this period, cells surrounding the injury can become inflamed and die, a cascading response that worsens disability.
The research showed that up to 50 percent of the motor and sensory nerve cell death could be prevented in mice with sciatic nerve injury and researchers feel they are on their way to developing a treatment that is effective in preventing motor nerve cell death, which is significant to people because loss of motor neurons means paralysis say specialists .
Cells produce proteins called Hsc70 and Hsp70 that help protect them from death when they are exposed to heat, injury or any other stresses that threaten their normal function.This is a way cells have of protecting themselves," researchers feel if they can figure out a way to facilitate the above response, they could potentially limit the amount of damage that is caused.
For the study, the researchers treated injured sciatic nerves in mice with Hsc70 and Hsp70. In mice treated with the proteins, cell death was reduced by up to 50 percent compared to mice that weren't treated.
"We don't know whether the protein is functioning in the same way as when it's made in the cells, but we're working to learn more about this effect. If we can understand it better, we'll know what form it should be in and what the doses should be to maximize the protective benefits." say researchers ,and they hope to use their knowledge about the proteins and how they work to develop drugs that could be used to treat injury.