Public Release: 

Drug delivery system maintains breathing after spinal cord injury in rats

Safe and effective delivery of therapeutic molecules repairs neural connections that control breathing

Society for Neuroscience

Researchers have devised a safe and effective way to deliver therapeutic molecules to the cervical spinal cord after injury in female rats. Reported in JNeurosci and, this clinically-relevant approach could help to repair the neural connections that control breathing in spinal cord injury (SCI) patients.

Given its proximity to the brain, damage to the cervical spine -- the portion of the spinal cord housed within the neck vertebrae -- is among the most serious SCIs. Cervical spine injury can sever the connection between the central nervous system and the breathing muscle that enables inhalation, paralyzing the diaphragm and causing major respiratory dysfunction in these patients.

Angelo Lepore, Yinghui Zhong, and colleagues developed a gel loaded with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has previously been shown to have the potential to repair the circuitry that controls the diaphragm. The researchers demonstrate the efficacy of local administration of this drug in an established female rat SCI model and show that the BDNF gel preserves diaphragm function by preserving the motor neurons responsible for the muscle's activation. This new drug delivery system uses materials that are safe for human use while avoiding the side effects associated with existing delivery methods.


Article: Local BDNF delivery to the injured cervical spinal cord using an engineered hydrogel enhances diaphragmatic respiratory function
Corresponding authors: Angelo Lepore, (Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA) and Yinghui Zhong (Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA),

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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