Novel therapeutic strategy
A traumatic spinal cord injury does not only cause direct tissue damage (primary injury) but also a further breakdown of neural and supporting cells (secondary damage). One key area of research aims to prevent such secondary damage and therefore preserve more functions of those affected.
Scientists recently found out that a well-known guidance molecule called Netrin-1 seems to play a positive role in this regard. They could demonstrate that Netrin-1 has the capacity to improve the functional recovery after such injury. The effect is even detected at the physical level, since there is a marked reduction of the tissue damage.
The effect behind it
Netrin-1 is pushing Autophagy (which literally means self-eating), our body’s own mechanism that allows cells to repair themselves. When a cell is partly damaged, autophagy allows the cell to destroy its broken components and start the self-repair mechanisms. As a result, it is actively diminishing the death of neurons (apoptotic suicide).
This promising result is still in its early phase. Further studies will have to confirm this result. And scientists also need to investigate other potential effects of Netrin-1, whether they are positive or negative. However, their work unveils a potential new therapeutic strategy and confirms that manipulation of autophagy seems to offer a viable mean to achieve functional recovery after spinal cord injury.
Please help us on our way to find a cure for spinal cord injuries.