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Researchers at Cleveland Clinic and CWRU restore bladder function in rats with spinal cord injuries

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Researchers at CWRU School of Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have discovered a way to restore bladder function in rats with severe spinal cord injuries. Jerry Silver, professor of neurosciences at CWRU School of Medicine, and Yu-Shang Lee, assistant staff scientist in the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, paired a traditional nerve bridge graft with scar degrading and growth factor treatments to grow new nerve cells. 

The neural bridge spans the gap between the severed sections of the spinal cord -- from the thoracic region to the lower spinal cord. The new nerve cells regrew in the bridge, which allowed the rats to regain bladder control. 
“It’s exciting news for us,” says Lee, who has been working on this research for the past 10 years. He cites a bladder control survey in which spinal cord injury patients ranked bladder control in the top two most important concerns -- higher than motor or sensory function. “It’s new hope for future treatments.”

The team’s work was detailed in the June 26 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. Lee and Silver plan to test their method on larger animals before moving on to human trials in a few years. Silver and Lee hope their research will ultimately result in restoration of bodily functions in paralyzed humans.

Source: Yu-Shang Lee
Writer: Karin Connelly

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