Do Mice Hold the Key to a Potential Paralysis Cure?


| LAST UPDATE 11/15/2021

By Sharon Renee
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Paralysis has long baffled the scientific world. But according to a new lab experiment, scientists might be able to change that. After treating lab rats initially deemed unable to walk, researchers were amazed by the results that soon followed. Here's why...

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It all started when a team of scientists from Northwestern University set off to prevent paralysis from ever forming in the first place. "The aim of our research was to develop a translatable therapy that could be brought to the clinic to prevent individuals from becoming paralyzed after major trauma or disease," Samuel Stupp, the team lead, revealed. Only after turning to lab rats to bring that vision to life, he couldn't believe what came next.

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As Stupp explained, his team had injected 76 paralyzed mice - some, with a self-made gel formula, while others, a placebo made from a salt solution. Up next? They waited... and waited... as they closely studied their subjects. Sure enough, 4 weeks later, and they finally got their answers. Much to their amazement, the rats previously given the gel-like treatment were able to walk again - virtually the same as they had before sustaining spinal-chord injuries.

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But that's not where their bewilderment ended. After further inspecting the cured mice, they discovered drastic improvements had taken place internally, more than what met the eye: not only had the mice's axions regenerated, but their scar tissue, too, severely healed. Which begged the question: might that same treatment provide those same results if tested on human sufferers? Researchers are officially more hopeful than ever...

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"We conclude that our observations suggest great opportunities in the structural design of dynamics to optimize the bioactivity of therapeutic supramolecular polymers," the study, published in Science, explained. With roughly 300,000 people suffering from spinal-chord injuries, as per The Miami Project's 2020 findings, perhaps this treatment could help change those statistics. Though, of course, it won't happen overnight: "The challenge will be how the FDA will look at these therapies because they're completely new," Stupp reflected. Clearly, there's lots more work to be done here. Stay tuned...