Researchers seeking a cure for paralysis say they have been able to regenerate injured nerve fibers from the eye, a step toward the long-sought goal of repairing spinal cord damage. Scientists at the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis said they regenerated injured fibers from the eye's retinal ganglion cells in a special culture.
European researchers presented similar findings earlier this year in a competing research project. Previous studies have had success with laboratory animals, but failed to duplicate the results with human nerve tissue.
Until these studies, people with spinal cord injuries were given no hope for recovery. But experts say the new findings could lead to applications to repair spinal cord injuries and neuro-degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
"Finding that it is possible to positively influence regeneration of adult human nerve cells is critical to the development of treatment strategies aimed at repairing the damaged spinal cord," said Dr. Richard Bunge, one of the study authors.
Their findings were published in the June issue of the journal Experimental Neurology.