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Bladder function restored in paralyzed laboratory mice

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 26th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Bladder function has been restored in laboratory mice, giving hope to those who suffer failure in paralytics. Researchers have recently discovered a way to regenerate nerves to restore function.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The bladder is one of the organs most affected when paralysis occurs. Bladder control is maintained through signaling that occurs between the brain and the spinal cord. After a spinal injury, such messaging is disrupted, which puts patients at a greater risk for urinary tract infections and kidney stones.

As published in the latest issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers successfully have since achieved nerve re-growth by adding a combination of a previously inhibited enzyme, chonrdoitinase, as well as a fibroblast growth factor, or FGF to the site of the injury. After adding a graft to the site, the nerves in the spinal cord grew back by up to 12 millimeters.

Previous research has been unsuccessful at achieving any significant nerve regeneration in mice with spinal injuries - and while the mice have not regained their ability to walk, they did experience a restoration of bladder function.

Mice were 40 percent more capable of emptying their bladders completely and were able to willfully control their bladders. The treated mice could also hold nearly three times the volume in their bladders compared to untreated mice.

"This is the first time that significant bladder function has been restored via nerve regeneration after a devastating cord injury," Yu-Shang Lee, of the Cleveland clinic and one of the study's authors, said.

While not yet been tested in humans, researchers are hopeful that it will lead to similar breakthroughs in people suffering from spinal cord injuries.

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