Another Israeli breakthrough: Israeli researchers give paralyzed rat the ability to walk again

A promising research study from the Technion and Tel Aviv University is making headlines in the medical world. The Israeli researchers who took part in the study managed to give a paralyzed rat the ability to walk again. The researchers hope that their study will change spinal cord injury treatment.
The walking rat Photo Credit: EPFL/Channel 2 News

People usually panic when they see rats but Technion researchers were thrilled to see one running around their lab recently. A few weeks earlier, the rat, which was suffering from paralysis due to a fully detached spinal cord, underwent breakthrough surgery and after a recovery period, it was able to walk again. The research study was a joint project carried out by two leading Israeli universities- the Technion and Tel Aviv University.

“During this project, we succeeded in reviving the spinal cord after the animal had become completely paralyzed,” Prof. Shulamit, the dean of the biomedical engineering faculty at the Technion, said. Levenberg added that the animal initially started to walk again and then regained its sensory perception.

Levenberg’s team, along with the researchers from Tel Aviv University, used stem cells from the mouth of a grown man for the project. The stem cells were then put through a tissue engineering process and placed on a tissue scaffold. The scaffold was then implanted in the place where the rat’s spinal cord was damaged. The process restored the damaged area and enabled the animal’s commands from its brain to reach the rest of its body.

“It’s amazing to see animals start to walk after two to three weeks,” Levenberg explained. “They’ve started to walk in almost a completely normal way. We were very excited to see it.” Levenberg told Reuters that she hopes that her research study will change spinal cord injury treatment but also stressed that there is still a long way to go before clinical trials can be conducted on humans. “These are very early studies and we still don’t know how this will work on humans,” she clarified.



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