San Diego Scientists Put Heads Together to Solve Spinal Cord Problems

In any spinal cord injury, the degree of ones recovery is usually dependent on the speed of treatment after the injury-producing event. The longer the wait, the more likely nerve cells wither and die, and paralysis follows. But now, for the first time, Neuroscientists at UCSD have been able to re-grow axons in damaged spinal cords in lab rats whose spinal cord injuries were up to a year old.

This discovery would not have been possible without the concentration of neuroscience research being performed in the San Diego area. Five major neuroscience institutions call San Diego home: UCSD, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, The Scripps Research Institute and The Neurosciences Institute.

“San Diego has a heavy concentration of people doing both experimental and theoretical work, from molecule to the mind. There are only a few places in its league – cities like New York with Columbia University, Boston with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Baltimore with Johns Hopkins University,” Said Dr. Michael Goldberg, president of the Society for Neuroscience.

The close geographical concentration has allowed for some intra-institution collaboration, which, because of the quickly expanding sciences, is done out of necessity.

“The science is so big now,” said Dr. Stuart A. Lipton, who previously worked at Harvard University and is now director of Burnham’s Del E. Webb Neuroscience, Aging and Stem Cell Research Center. “No one person or institution can have all of the toys, the big instruments, the necessary technologies and techniques.”

San Diego neuroscientists have been leaders in studying the causes and treatments for neurological syndromes such as autism, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease, and brain growth. It is estimated that more than 260,000 Americans live with chronic disabilities caused by spinal-cord injuries.

Source: San Diego Union Tribune

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