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Paralyzed rats run again: Could method help humans?

Paralyzed rats learned to walk, run and spring deftly over obstacles in a study that combined drug and electrode therapy with physical training, the Los Angeles Times reported, potentially offering new hope for servicemembers with spinal cord injuries.

According to the Times' description of the study, 10 rats whose spinal cords had been partially severed were injected with neurotransmitters and given neuron stimulation through electrodes. They were then prodded along physically challenging obstacle courses.

The rats regained the ability to walk and even run up a staircase after five to six weeks of daily training.

Study co-author Gregoire Courtine, a research scientist in spinal cord repair at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, told the Times the approach will not cure spinal cord injuries in humans but “might capitalize on the remarkable capacity of spared neuronal systems to reorganize” themselves in response to rehabilitation.

Courtine said he hopes to begin Phase 2 trials with human subjects within a couple of years.

Source: Los Angeles Times

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