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Breathing returns to paralyzed rats

Combo treatment improves respiration long after initial spinal cord injury

1:37pm, November 19, 2014

WASHINGTON — Paralyzed rats can breathe a sigh of relief: A new treatment can restore lung function, even a year and a half after a spinal cord injury that takes it away.

When researchers injected a scar tissue–chewing enzyme into the rats’ spinal cords and then dialed down the animals’ oxygen intake, they could breathe easily again, neuroscientist Philippa Warren reported November 17 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Warren and colleagues are the first to show that respiratory recovery is possible long after a paralyzing injury. For people on respirators, “Even minor improvements in the ability to breathe would be huge,” said neuroscientist Oswald Steward of the University of California, Irvine.

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