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THE DAILY YOMIURI          April 2 1999




Washington (Reuters)-A new technique that uses a sticky chemical and a

calcium bath may help served nerve endings grow back together, offering hope

to the paralyzed and others with nerve injuries, scientists said Thursday.


The technique has worked in a range of animals, from crayfish to guinea

pigs, the researchers said. They added that they hoped to test it soon in



"This new approach can almost certainly be used to rapidly rejoin cut or

crushed axons (the part of a nerve cell through which impulses travel away

from the cell body) in humans." George Bittner of the University of Texas at

Austin, who led the research, said in a statement.


"The technique rejoin the cut or crushed ends of served central and

peripheral nerves cell so that the repaired cells again conduct electrical

signals through the severed area within seconds to minutes after they are

rejoined." he added.


Writing in the journal of Neuroscience, Bittner and colleagues said they

applied a sticky solution of polyethylene glycol (PEG) to the cut ends of

nerve axons for a minute or two. PEG often is used in medicine and keeps the

severed nerve ends together.


The researchers washed this solution off and then soaked the nerve ends in

calcium salt solutions that resemble natural body fluids.


Scientists previously thought that nerve cells could not be regrown once

they were severed, but many recent experiments have shown this is not true.


One experimental compound being used is GM-1 ganglioside, a normal part of a

cell'smembrane that helps control cell growth, development and healing

following an injury. Researchers speculated that the compound can cause

nerve endings regrow when used as a drug.


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