German researchers have enabled mice paralysed after spinal cord injuries to walk again, re-establishing a neural link hitherto considered irreparable in mammals by using a designer protein injected into the brain.

Spinal cord injuries in humans, often caused by sports or traffic accidents, leave them paralysed because not all of the nerve fibers that carry information between muscles and the brain are able to grow back.

But the researchers from Ruhr University Bochum managed to stimulate the paralysed mice’s nerve cells to regenerate using a designer protein.

“The special thing about our study is that the protein is not only used to stimulate those nerve cells that produce it themselves, but that it is also carried further [through the brain],” the team’s head Dietmar Fischer told Reuters in an interview.
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