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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Restoration of locomotion in paraplegics with aid of autologous bypass grafts for direct neurotisation of muscles by upper motor neurons--the future: surgery of the spinal cord?

OBJECTIVES: Paraplegia means a lifelong sentence of sensory loss, paralysis and dependence. Complete spinal cord lesions cannot heal up to now despite intensive experimental research, remarkable efforts and recent achievements in bio-technology and re-engineering. Traumatic paraplegia due to spinal cord injury (SCI) is a quite frequent condition and related to the socio-economical situation of the population. It is experienced disproportionately by young people. The rise in gunshot wounds is dramatic. SCI has appeared refractory to treatment. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Since 1980 G.A.B. had tried surgical repair of the spinal cord ( SC) after experimental bisection in rats, and since 1993 research was done on monkeys (macaca fascicularis) to be closer to human physiology. The sciatic nerve was removed and used as an autologous graft from the lateral bundle of the spinal cord (tractus corticospinalis ventro lateralis) to the three muscles of both legs being known to be most important for locomotion: M. gluteus maximus, M. gluteus medius and M. quadriceps femoris. The first fruitful transplantation in a human being was performed in July 2000. RESULTS: The results in rats were promising and fulfilled the requirements of the American Task Force of the National Institute of Neurological and Communicative Disorders and Stroke of the US. The results in monkeys confirmed the paradigm so that we performed the first operation in a young lady suffering for four months from complete SC lesion T9 after approval by the ethical committee. First voluntary movements of the connected muscles after 17 months. 27 months after op she was able to walk up to 60 steps with the help of a walker and to climb steps in the water. Improvement is still continuing. DISCUSSION: SCI has appeared refractory to any kind of treatment. Compensatory strategies are still experimental in human beings. Autologous nerve grafts from the spinal cord tissue (the lateral spinal bundle) connected to peripheral muscle nerves seem promising in paraplegics. But the physiology is still unclear when the glutamatergic upper motor neuron connected to motor end-plates (cholinergic) does work like in our patient. CONCLUSION: Further studies in primates and paraplegic patients are necessary to clarify the bypass grafting of the SC to muscle groups distal to the complete SCI to restore locomotion.[1]


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