Breathing thanks to a single injection


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Many people with high spinal cord injury suffer from shortness of breath. In an animal experiment, breathing could now be restored for the first time in chronic spinal cord injury.

More than half of people with spinal cord injuries suffer from respiratory disorders. Disturbed breathing and its consequences are even the main cause of illness and death. Up to one year after spinal cord damage, a moderate regeneration of disturbed respiration is possible in the animal model. However, recovery from chronic injuries seemed almost impossible.
Now, Philippa M. Warren, Jerry Silver and their colleagues took a decisive step forward.

One-time injection works
Only the facts: The phrenic nerve (phrenic nerve) arises from the cervical cord and is essential for breathing. The enzyme chondroitinase ABC is used to soften scar tissue that may affect regeneration.
A single injection of this chondroitinase ABC into the cervical cord (more precisely, near the area of origin of the phrenic nerve) enabled vigorous and sustained breathing.
It was particularly interesting that this treatment was more effective in chronic lesions than in acute ones. This treatment strategy is very promising and gives hope that there is a chance for functional recovery even after chronic spinal cord injuries. Currently the working group is investigating the mechanisms behind this respiratory function restoration.

This study was supported by Wings for Life and was published in the journal Nature Communications

Source:“Rapid and robust restoration of breathing long after spinal cord injury”. Warren PM, Steiger SC, Dick TE, MacFarlane PM, Alilain WJ, Silver J.Nature Communications, November 2018.