A recent study from Ohio State University found that long-term treatment with gabapentin, a commonly prescribed drug for nerve pain, could help restore upper limb function after a spinal cord injury.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. One author is Andrea Tedeschi, assistant professor of neuroscience.
In the study, the team found mice treated with gabapentin regained roughly 60% of forelimb function in a skilled walking test, compared to restoration of approximately 30% of forelimb function in mice that received a placebo.
The drug blocks activity of a protein that has a key role in the growth process of axons, the long, slender extensions of nerve cell bodies that transmit messages.
The protein stops axon growth at times when synapses form, allowing transmission of information to another nerve cell.
The team says that gabapentin blocks the protein from putting on its brakes, which effectively allowed axons to grow longer after injury.
The regained limb function in mice occurred after four months of treatment—the equivalent of about nine years in adult humans.
The finding has translational implications because the drug is clinically approved and already prescribed to patients.
The team says the finding may also impact other neurological conditions such as brain injury and stroke.
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