In the research on adult mice, the drugs stopped a particular series of proteins from interacting to restrict nerve growth. Normally used to suppress tumors, in the mice with partially severed spinal cords they were able to make nerves regrow in the affected area. This meant that 75% of the mice went from being paralyzed to being able to walk on a ladder. Mice which were not treated with the cancer drugs only made a slight recovery in their movement. They are only just beginning to understand the fundamental reasons for this striking difference. They have identified a mechanism that controls nerve regeneration, and there are already experimental drugs that target this pathway, suggesting an opportunity to translate these findings into the clinic. Although the results in mice were very encouraging, they now have to be replicated in studies in rats, whose spinal cords more closely resemble those of humans.
The study, published in the journal Brain, used drugs which have been found to be safe in early cancer trials. SEE THE ABSTRACT HERE: