- Treatment of spinal cord injury
remains a major challenge since regenerating nerves are unable to bridge
the gap caused by spinal injury
- Silk fiber from the Antheraea
pernyi silkworm possesses unique properties
allowing it to act as a scaffolding over which regenerating nerves can
to WHO estimates, currently about 250,00 to 500,000 people worldwide
suffer spinal cord injury, with not too many effective treatment options.
Suitably modified degummed A. pernyi filaments
also referred to
silk filaments may be well suited in the
treatment of spinal cord injury according to scientists from the universities
of Aberdeen and Oxford.
The team, in
collaboration with Oxford Biomaterials Ltd, found that cleaned, sterilized silk obtained from the Antheraea
pernyi (AP) Asian silkworm had properties well suited to spinal repair
. The findings of their work appear this week in
journal Scientific Reports
‘Modified silk from Antheraea pernyi is ideal to use as a scaffold across the area of spinal injury enabling the regenerating nerves to grow upon it and cover the defect.’
In the words
of Dr Ann Rajnicek from the University of Aberdeen, 'Most people are familiar
with the idea of silk surgical sutures that dissolve over time, but the
potential to use this modified silk material to promote nerve growth in the
context of spinal cord injury
has exciting prospects,
especially when combined with other growth stimulating cues.
What Makes DAPF Unique In
Treating Spinal Injury?
electro spun nano-fiber materials
have been widely researched for use as
scaffolding in the management of spinal injuries. They have been shown to
possess good mechanical strength and degradation permitting growth of
regenerating nerve fibers. However the chemicals and solvents used to produce them are highly toxic to the tissues and also
the fiber size is not uniform
. Thus, synthetic fibers may not be biocompatible with human nerve tissue and
are unsuitable for use
produced from natural polymers degrade
before nerve regeneration is complete, and again not the optimal choice
in spinal cord
The modified DAPF silk had unique properties
desirable in a scaffold suitable for spinal repair.
has the correct rigidity: being too rigid and unyielding could harm the
surrounding spinal cord tissue, if it is too soft it would be unable to
support nerve growth over it
AP silk filament has a repeating Arginylglycylaspartic acid (RGD)
chemical sequence on its surface which allows these filaments to bind to
receptors on nerve cells and encouraging their attachment to the
scaffolding and growth
the AP silk did not stimulate a response by immune system cells in the
spinal cord, thereby reducing inflammation and tissue damage
but not the least, the AP silk degrades gradually over time. Thus, once it
supports the early growth of nerves across the injury site, these nerves
take over the role of the scaffold, promoting further nerve growth, while
the silk scaffolding dissolves.
findings of the study suggest that AP silk may have a potential role in the
treatment of spinal or nervous system injuries. Interestingly, the same team
have earlier demonstrated the use of AP silk in repair and regeneration of
Huang, from the University of Aberdeen, said: 'Spinal injuries affect
250,000-500,000 people globally every year. It can have devastating effects for people who suffer them, including loss of motor
and sensory function below the level of injury, and bladder, bowel, and sexual
. If we can work to find a solution, such as the use of AP silk,
to improve their quality of life even slightly then it is beneficial.
Intriguingly, AP silk may also have the potential to aid repair following brain
injury. These are still early bench-based studies but they certainly seem
to show that AP silk has fantastic properties, especially suitable for spinal
repair, and we look forward to researching this further.'
conclusion the absence of effective treatments for spinal injury means the
quality of life of several thousand patients worldwide is affected. The
findings of the current study certainly offer a glimmer of hope for a vast
number of such patients and their families.
Living With Spinal Cord Injury - Some Health Tips
reaction following a spinal cord injury with loss of mobility, possibly
impaired bladder and bowel control is naturally shock and disbelief and a
feeling of helplessness at being increasingly dependent on others. However
there are a number of ways to gradually gain control of the situation, build
one's physical strength, self-esteem and mental strength
about your injury with friends and family and tell them how they can help.
increase your independence by the use of specialized equipment and devices
that are available, such as wheel chairs, electronic aids, electronic
stimulations and robotic gait training
healthy and well and maintain a healthy body weight. Consult a dietician.
There should be adequate padding between the skin and bones
regular vitamin and mineral supplements
sure you take sufficient fluids and prevent dehydration
smoking and alcohol as they interfere with healing
physical training to regain muscle strength and prevent muscle wasting
spending too much time in the sun
therapy to redevelop fine motor skills necessary for routine activities
vocational therapy aimed at finding a friendly work place suited to your
disability and skills
therapy encourages patients to participate in sports and leisure activities
suited to their level of disability
travel well in advance and carry your prescriptions with you
a seat cushion when you travel.
- Arginylglycylaspartic acid - (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arginylglycylaspartic_acid)
- Health Tips for Individuals Living with a Spinal Cord Injury - (http://conquerparalysisnow.org/ArticleDetails/tabid/149/ArticleID/61/Health-Tips-for-Individuals-Living-with-a-Spinal-Cord-Injury.aspx)