Science Market Update

Irvine Scientists Use Salmon to Cure Paralysis

Posted by Sam Asher on Thu, Sep 04, 2014

Roughly 2 percent of Americans have some form of paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury, according to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. It is impossible to restore function and movement lost in this sort of paralysis…or at least, it has been up until now. A bioresearch team at the University of California, Irvine has discovered the perfect concoction to cure such paralysis using, of all things, a protein transplant from salmon.

Irvine bioresearcher“Paralysis and loss of function from spinal cord injury has been considered irreversible, “says UC Irvine professor of neuroscience Oswald Steward. This is because spinal cord injury leads to the destruction of nerve connections, rendering it impossible to feel or move the affected area. Destroyed nerve connections are thought to be unrepairable,” but our discovery points the way toward a potential therapy to induce regeneration of nerve connections,” Steward says in a recent UC Irvine press release.

This therapy has two parts. First, an enzyme called PTEN is deleted through gene inhibition. PTEN prevents creation of axons once the body has created enough in order to regulate the number of axons the body has. Disabling PTEN allows destroyed axons to grow back; however, simply inhibiting the gene is not enough to guarantee that the axons will grow back. Axons need a special type of environment to grow and create their networks, and Steward found that an excellent foundation comes from the fibrin in salmon.


(A fibrin network, yellow/orange, surrounding red blood cells. Image courtesy semphotographs)

Fibrin is a stringy protein commonly used as surgical glue. Its fibrous nature provides a perfect framework for axons to grow and connect. In rodent trials, an injection of fibrin and a dose of PTEN inhibitor immediately following a spinal cord injury restored movement and feeling in the affected areas. Of course, Steward notes that realistically speaking, such treatment may not be available immediately after injury. “It would be a huge step if it could be delivered in the chronic period weeks and months after an injury, but we need to determine this before we can engage in clinical trials.”

The study received funding support from the National Institutes of Health (grant R01 NS047718) and donations from Cure Medical and Unite 2 Fight Paralysis. For more information regarding grants and research funding at UC Irvine, peruse our free University of California Irvine Funding Report, accessible via the following link.

Get Irvine  Funding Stats

Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. makes an appearance at the University of California, Irvine campus each year for its Irvine BioResearch Product Faire™, held next on October 7, 2014. If you're in the area, we will also be hosting the BioResearch Product Faire™ Event at the University of Southern California, Health Science Campus and the Los Angeles Biotechnology Vendor Showcase on the following days, October 8th and 9th respectively. Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. is a full service event company that has produced on-campus, life science research trade shows nationwide for the past 20 years. If you are a university researcher or a laboratory product vendor, consider attending one of our on-campus trade shows: here is our 2014 schedule of events.

Exhibit at Irvine

Tags: 2014, CA, University of California Irvine, California, BioResearch Product Faire Event, Irvine, UCI, UC Irvine

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