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.
"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
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
"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.