Paraplegia is an impairment in motor or sensory function of the lower extremities. It is usually the result of spinal cord injury or a congenital condition such as spina bifida which affects the neural elements of the spinal canal.
Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered two ways to preserve diseased upper motor neurons that would normally be destroyed in ALS, based on a study in mice. Upper motor neurons initiate movement, and they degenerate in ALS.
A genetic mutation in the SPTSSA gene is identified as the cause of Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia, a rare disease that causes progressive weakness, stiffness and spasticity in the lower extremities, according to a study, "SPTSSA variants alter sphingolipid synthesis and cause a complex hereditary spastic paraplegia," published in Brain on on Jan. 30.
A recent genetic finding supports the theory that abnormal lipid (fat) transport pathways inside brain cells cause motor neuron degenerative disorders.
Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago found promising results in their search for a treatment to stop nerve cell degeneration that happens in some types of disorders, such as hereditary spastic paraplegia and Parkinson's disease, which can cause significant disability.
For the first time, scientists have successfully used gene therapy to make mice walk again after these animals suffered a complete cross-sectional injury.