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Scarring Manipulation May Help Cell Regeneration in Spinal Cord Injuries

For some time now scientists have known that the scarring that forms after an injury blocks nerve regeneration in spinal cords. Scarring is produced by the activation of astrocyte cells (which are major nerve support cells in the spinal cord) at the point of injury. Upon activation these cells change in shape and stiffness, creating the scarring that forms a barrier to nerve regeneration.

According to, lab samples of researchers from Liverpool and Glasgow have shown that long-chain sugars, called heparan sulfates, play an important role in scar formation. Now scientists have found that Schwann cells from peripheral nerves, which have proven to be the most effective kind of stem cells to help regenerate those damaged nerves, also release the heparan sulfate sugars that can over-activate protein growth factors that promote astrocyte scarring. Thankfully, scientists discovered that certain heparins chemically modified in the laboratory can inhibit that over-activation.

More Cell Studies Needed

Professor Jerry Turnbull, from the Institute of Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool, has said that “spinal injury is a devastating condition that can result in paralysis for life. The sugars we are investigating are produced by nearly every cell in the body and are very similar to the blood thinning drug heparin.” Adding that while some sugar types promote a scarring reaction, other types, which can be chemically produced in the laboratory by modifying heparin, can prevent scarring in their lab models.

Professor Turnbull says that “studies in animals are now needed, but that the exciting thing about this work is that it could, in the future, provide a way of developing treatments for improving nerve repair in patients, using the body’s own Schwann cells, supplemented with specific sugars.”

According to Professor Sue Barnett, from the Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation of the University of Glasgow, scientists already knew that Schwann cells have the potential to promote nerve regeneration. Now they know that these cells secrete these complex sugars that promote scarring, but they’ve also learned how to intervene in the process and promote central nervous system repair.

The Lawyers of Greenberg Stone and Urbano Can Help

The lawyers at Greenberg Stone and Urbano have more than 70 years of combined experience helping victims of spinal cord injuries resulting from car accidents, motorcycle accidents, tractor-trailer accidents, accidents at amusement parks or any other kind of accident caused by someone else’s negligence recover the compensation that may be owed to them.

Throughout the years, the Miami Dade County Car Accidents Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano, have represented many clients involved in serious motor vehicle accidents that have caused spinal cord injuries. If you or a loved one have suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a tractor-trailer accident, an accident at an amusement park or any other kind of accident, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases.

Please visit our website to learn more about our firm and contact us today for a free consultation.

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