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The body responds to injuries to the spinal cord by creating scar issue, thus sealing the spinal wound. However, this also prevents new tissue from being created following a spinal cord injury. Fortunately, researchers have found a high-potential genetic trigger that they could target to enhance how the spinal cord recovers from an injury — a scientific step that may give hope to spinal cord injury patients in West Virginia and elsewhere.

The team of scientists focused on a gene called the LZK gene, located in supportive cells known as astrocytes. These cells play a major role in healthy nervous systems. However, scientists do not quite understand the role they play when it comes to responding to injury.

The scientist discovered that, by eliminating the LZK gene, they were able to reduce the rise in the number of astrocytes that occurred in response to infection and injury. This resulted in a larger wound. The hope now is that, by over-expressing the LZK gene, they will produce the opposite effect — a tinier scar. With that, patients may be able to recover from spinal cord injury more effectively.

Some spinal cord injury patients suffered their injuries as a result of the carelessness of other parties — such as drivers who caused accidents due to speeding or texting while driving. In these scenarios, they have the right to file personal injury claims against the other parties, seeking the reimbursement of monetary damages. Liability must be established before a civil court, based upon a showing of negligence, before damage claims will be determined in West Virginia.

Source: fiercebiotech.com, “Gene therapy could promote healing in brain, spinal cord injuries“, Amirah Al Idrus, March 29, 2018