image by the Guardian

A ground breaking gene therapy has the potential to help
mend damaged nerves in the spin and help those paralyzed by spinal cord
injuries. This new therapy works by utilizing an enzyme called chondroitinase.
This enzyme has the ability to break down scar tissue and by doing so allows
severed nerves to connect again.

Rats treated with this therapy for a period of time were
able to relearn some basic skill such as grabbing with their limbs. The therapy
can treat large areas of the spinal cord at once, and the hope is that one day
the treatment will be able to help people with spinal cord injuries regain the
ability to perform some daily tasks such as using utensils, picking up things,
and writing.

Though this therapy is a breakthrough in regenerative
medicine there is still some hurdles that need to be cleared before it can be
brought to human trials. The research team needs to prove the treatment can
work effectively in larger mammals before bringing it to human trials. They
also want to find a way to stop the therapy for working once the spine is

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1. Sample Ian. “Paws and play: gene treatment helps rats with
spinal cord injuries regain their nerve.” The Guardian. 14 Jun 2018.