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Paraplegic Rats Enabled To "Walk" Again

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the for-some-definitions-of-walk dept.

Biotech 99

eldavojohn notes a paper released in Nature Neuroscience today describing work in which paraplegic rats were enabled to walk again as early as a week after injury and treatment. The process involves a serotonin-influencing drug and electrical stimulation of the spine, along with an incentive to the paralyzed back legs to move — namely, being placed on a treadmill. Soon a poorly understood spinal mechanism called the "central pattern generator" kicks in and the rats' legs move under the stimulus of a rhythmic signal from the spine (the brain is not involved). Eurekalert reports, "Daily treadmill training over several weeks eventually enabled the rats to regain full weight-bearing walking, including backwards, sideways and at running speed. However, the injury still interrupted the brain's connection to the spinal cord-based rhythmic walking circuitry, leaving the rats unable to walk of their own accord."

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If this also applies to humans (1)

santax (1541065) | about 5 years ago | (#29486161)

this would be great news for the paralyzed people. Sure, you can't think 'walk there' and walk there, but if they can hook this system up to an electrode and an input device like a mouthcontrolled switch (if someone is fully paralyzed) it would give them great freedom again!

It would have other advantages as well. (2, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 5 years ago | (#29487249)

... if they can hook this system up to an electrode and an input device like a mouthcontrolled switch (if someone is fully paralyzed) it would give them great freedom again!

Or arm-controlled for paras and partially-quads.

But it would have other advantages.

The paralysis of the lower body from loss of brain control due to spinal injury produces a host of medical complications. Restoring and maintaining nerve and muscle function below the break, even if it requires prosthetic assist to control it, would head off most, if not all, of these. (There are other systems than legs-walking that would benefit from the same approach, as well.)

With months or years of all functions but the direct brain control kept healthy, attempts to restore the broken connection (whether by training promoting regrowth of nerve connections, stem-cell treatment, or whatever) would be greatly aided. (Currently, by the time you can try to regrow and retrain the nerves there's a good chance the stuff you're trying to control has broken down partially or completely. Oh, well...)

Re:If this also applies to humans (1)

WoRLoKKeD (1142351) | about 5 years ago | (#29487993)

Does it make me a bad person if I immediately thought of the hilarity that could be had with long term coma patients and a childhood growing up with Robot Wars?

Re:If this also applies to humans (1)

nametaken (610866) | about 5 years ago | (#29488173)

It would be fantastic news, except that I've read a similar version (or two) of this story every f'ing year for at least the last 15 years. The only difference is that sometimes it's dogs and not rats.

Pardon me for being so cynical, but they never, ever materializes as a treatment for humans.

Re:If this also applies to humans (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 5 years ago | (#29490507)

Similarly with life-extension. When I was younger, I remembering being excited at reading how they'd extended the life expectancy of a fly by about 50%. But it seems things aren't progressing beyond that :(

Re:If this also applies to humans (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | about 5 years ago | (#29491785)

Actually there was a cerebral input sensor they developed for the monkey who would move a robotic arm just by thinking certain ways , and this would stimulate his brain patterns that the implant would recognize as a certain pattern equal to move here or pick this up. This would complement each other very well....in fact a merger would not be a bad thing between both companies.

WTF? (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 years ago | (#29486163)

Imagine being the crippled rat and suddenly you can walk, but with a hitch.

"Hey Jack, look, I'm walking! I can walk again! But wait a second, I didn't want to walk. Damn, I'm walking for no reason! Jack, make it stop! My legs keep...Jack? I'm going on an unwanted vacation it seems. Nice knowing ya! Tell Martha I love her. You can have my cheese, okay?"

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486309)

Ingrate. Next you'll be wanting to have your cake and eat it as well.

Re:WTF? (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | about 5 years ago | (#29487271)

Imagine being the crippled rat and suddenly you can walk, but with a hitch.

"Hey Jack, look, I'm walking! I can walk again! But wait a second, I didn't want to walk. Damn, I'm walking for no reason! Jack, make it stop! My legs keep...Jack? I'm going on an unwanted vacation it seems. Nice knowing ya! Tell Martha I love her. You can have my cheese, okay?"

And then the second rat shows the walking rat to all the other rats, convinces them he did it through the power of God, then spends the rest of his life getting rich off donations. In exchange, he pushes the other rats over and tells them they're healed of whatever ailment the scientists gave them.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487649)

Good news, im back Marth... Jack what the hell do you think you are doing with my wife?!! What do you mean i said you could have Martha and i love cheese?!

Re:WTF? (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 5 years ago | (#29490075)

"You can have my cheese, okay?"

That isn't funny because it propagates the idea that rats and mice like cheese. They don't and they prefer sweet things like soft candy.

Ever wondered why your mouse traps don't catch mice? Exactly.

Re:WTF? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#29493149)

That isn't funny because it propagates the idea that rats and mice like cheese.

No, that's why it's funny.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29494373)

Guess that explains why peanut butter always worked (and doesnt fall off the trap)

Cats do this too. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486171)

You can cut the spinal cord of a cat and get it to walk on a treadmill just fine. What is it about cats that allow them to do this better than a rat? Why is it that a cat could still have a working CPG while a rat wouldn't? Pretty cool stuff, I just wish there was more info I could get to right now.

For those who don't know... (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 5 years ago | (#29486173)

Edgerton's team tested rats with complete spinal injuries that left no voluntary movement in their hind legs.

That is usually code for "we severed the spine so we could test out this technique"

Re:For those who don't know... (5, Funny)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | about 5 years ago | (#29486509)

Really?!? I thought these were rats that were in bad car accidents, war vets, and took nasty falls down the stairs!

Re:For those who don't know... (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#29486679)

That is usually code for "we severed the spine so we could test out this technique"

That is usually code for "I disapprove of this research and will continue to do so right up until I get a spinal cord injury, at which point I will promptly forget I was ever opposed to it and will gripe about the research taking too long."

a try at a constructive reply (0, Offtopic)

pizzach (1011925) | about 5 years ago | (#29486961)

That is usually code for "we severed the spine so we could test out this technique"

That is usually code for "I disapprove of this research and will continue to do so right up until I get a spinal cord injury, at which point I will promptly forget I was ever opposed to it and will gripe about the research taking too long."

You sir are no better than who you responded to because you pidgin-holed a large group of people by saying something obtuse. It edges on trolling (though I doubt you will me modded as such).

When market speak is pointed out in MS articles, those posts get an automatic +5 insightful. Though I am not sure that is exactly what this is in this case. I strongly think paraplegic was only used for brevity and because it has an exact medical meaning. It wouldn't surprise me if another page of the report detailed exactly how they made the rats paraplegic, perhaps even using the words that the poster that you were replying to wished they did.

I do hate it when people word things that they think some groups might find disgusting so that it is round about. It undermines transparency when you have to read into everything to figure out what it means exactly. It undermines allowing society to digest something and figure out where it falls in their "morality and ethics". We have a place for squashing flies. We have a place for the death penalty. We have a place for war. We have a place for hunting. We have a place for slaughtering cattle. I am sure there is a place for paraplegic mice, too.

Re:a try at a constructive reply (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#29488287)

You sir are no better than who you responded to because you pidgin-holed a large group of people by saying something obtuse. It edges on trolling (though I doubt you will me modded as such).

It was snarky, but so was the GP. I did respond in kind. That's what is needed sometimes. Tubesteak was acting as if this is a crime, it's not, it's valuable research with good goals. He might value rat life differently. That's fine, but it's worth pointing out that animal rights advocates who speak out against paralyzing animals to find cures for paralysis rarely think they have anything to gain from that research. I think if they did realize they had something to gain from it, or if they had an ounce of empathy for those who are paralyzed, they would feel differently.

I do hate it when people word things that they think some groups might find disgusting so that it is round about.

That wasn't what happened. The authors explained their methods in detail inthe actual nature article. [nature.com]

It's important to remember that when reading about research on /., rarely are the summary or "the article" actually written by the scientists themselves. "TFA" is usually written by a staff writer at websites like newscientist, and the summaries are written by /.ers. Occasionally, a link is provided to the real paper, as it was here. That's the actual stuff straight from the horse's mouth. Before you critique the scientists for being incomplete or not including information, make sure you're reading the article that the scientists wrote to see if they did that, but the chain of people who brought it to slashdot left it out.

Tubesteak was taking advantage of that, acting as if the scientists were trying to cover up that information, when in fact they made no attempt to conceal it.

Re:a try at a constructive reply (1)

0-until-pink (202599) | about 5 years ago | (#29490371)

Tubesteak was taking advantage of that, acting as if the scientists were trying to cover up that information, when in fact they made no attempt to conceal it.

Most of your point on TFA being a summary is for granted even though the modders seem to think it is somehow new information.
The point is Tubesteak posited some extra information and you categorically stated (i.e not suggested) his intentions were dishonest and further alleged that his ethics are questionable. This does smack of trolldom.

Re:a try at a constructive reply (1)

pizzach (1011925) | about 5 years ago | (#29491593)

Thanks for the thoughtful reply and it was deserving of your moderation. The danger with snarky comments is that they can create a escalation instead of good discussion. (Especially when users lose be basis of what the comments was in reply to.)

Snarky comments also by their nature are a double edged sword, where usually the first moderation determines how other readers will interpret it. You were moderated insightful. Not funny. There is always the danger of someone buzzing around first a with troll mod though. Speaking of which, as of late I find my snarky comments modded a troll :-/ Need to include notes on the bottom.

Well, cheers anyway.

Re:a try at a constructive reply (0, Offtopic)

pizzach (1011925) | about 5 years ago | (#29492537)

It's important to remember that when reading about research on /., rarely are the summary or "the article" actually written by the scientists themselves. "TFA" is usually written by a staff writer at websites like newscientist, and the summaries are written by /.ers. Occasionally, a link is provided to the real paper, as it was here. That's the actual stuff straight from the horse's mouth. Before you critique the scientists for being incomplete or not including information, make sure you're reading the article that the scientists wrote to see if they did that, but the chain of people who brought it to slashdot left it out.

I said the exact same thing as you in your post....yet I got modded off topic and you got +5 insightful? WTF What I had written was below.

Though I am not sure that is exactly what this is in this case. I strongly think paraplegic was only used for brevity and because it has an exact medical meaning. It wouldn't surprise me if another page of the report detailed exactly how they made the rats paraplegic, perhaps even using the words that the poster that you were replying to wished they did.

Slashdot...disappoints me.

Re:a try at a constructive reply (2, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#29494333)

Moderations are often strange and mysterious, but in this case they weren't exactly the same things. For one thing rather than just -speculating- that the researchers provided information as to how they paralyzed the rats, I provided the link. I also explained WHY it sometimes seems incomplete.

Not that it made my post on-topic and insightful as opposed to offtopic, just that may have been some of the odd thinking behind the moderations.

Re:a try at a constructive reply (1)

pizzach (1011925) | about 5 years ago | (#29498959)

Moderations are often strange and mysterious, but in this case they weren't exactly the same things. For one thing rather than just -speculating- that the researchers provided information as to how they paralyzed the rats, I provided the link. I also explained WHY it sometimes seems incomplete.

I was unimpressed with the moderators, not you. When I did post on topic, I was moded off topic. Your post this time just got modded up even though it was totally off topic. *sigh* I think it comes down to saying something the mods like to hear, not whether it is off topic or not.

I provided the link. I also explained WHY it sometimes seems incomplete

I also explained "WHY" it seemed incomplete. But no one seemed to read it. I didn't provide a link this time, but I usually do 99% of the time. There are cases where I quote material, and have been modded "TROLL" for it. I link isn't always a silver arrow.

There is never going to be an article on moderation. Might as well get it off my mind now so I can not worry about it later. I do have built up karma from the years so it shouldn't effect me too badly. No one even seems to read the moderation guide lines anymore.

Re:a try at a constructive reply (1)

0-until-pink (202599) | more than 4 years ago | (#29503309)

*sigh* I think it comes down to saying something the mods like to hear, not whether it is off topic or not.

Bingo!
Perhaps that's when its time to consider getting your tech news elsewhere.

Re:a try at a constructive reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29488439)

That is usually code for "we severed the spine so we could test out this technique"

That is usually code for "I disapprove of this research and will continue to do so right up until I get a spinal cord injury, at which point I will promptly forget I was ever opposed to it and will gripe about the research taking too long."

You sir are no better than who you responded to.

He's WAY better: a) he's not pro-animal rights and b) he's funny.

Re: Your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29487617)

It is unpatriotic to question a president during health care reform. Payback's a bitch, isn't it?

Let me guess, you're trying to equate protecting our country (which is, you know, the President's JOB) with health care - which notably is NOT. Somehow I fail to see how people trying to save our country from the disaster that would be socialized medicine are somehow "as unpatriotic" as the people who were literally trying to leave our country open to terrorist attack.

The two somehow don't quite seem the same. Like, at all. Especially because the federal government IS responsible for securing our country, but has ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to touch health care.

Re: Your sig (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#29487975)

When the right was doing things the left didn't like and the left protested, some ridiculous arguments were brought out. Now the left is doing things the right doesn't like, the right is protesting as it has every right to do. My signature is just highlighting the fact that the left isn't quite stooping to the response the right had to protests. I was not seriously trying to equate the two, just taking the opportunity to act superior.

I'd also like to point out that despite the caps, "Especially because the federal government... has ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to touch health care," is debatable at best. I'd say the government has the right to do whatever we (the people, not the left) want it to do.

Re: Your sig (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29489291)

I'd say the government has the right to do whatever we (the people, not the left) want it to do.

Not without some constitutional amendments first. We the people are one time or another wanted the government to just lock terrorist up in club gitmo without a trial to be held indefinitely. We the people at various times in history wanted to keep people as slaves, outlaw abortion, limit free speech to only what we agreed with, force schools to teach creation instead of evolution and several other things that are barred.

The US government is not set up as some all powerful entity. It's entire intent and purpose was to be a common head of state for international affairs and regulate commerce between the states. It's supposed to operate on what sovereignty the state surrender to it and what is specifically outlines in the constitution, not from the position of a king.

Re: Your sig (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#29489945)

The US government is not set up as some all powerful entity.

The constitution needs all the passages about laws "as necessary" removed before that is true. Who decides what is necesssary? The government, whose three branches are acting more in concert than in opposition. Totally failing to address the issue of political parties in the constitution was also a gigantic fuckup that ignores the nature of man... like the rest of the document. Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? How about putting some protections for life in the constitution? The founders knew that any rights not enumerated would be ignored, and even paid homage to that fact, but did nothing about it. Hindsight may be 20/20, but some of the verbiage in the constitution seems to me to have been inserted to deliberately create loopholes.

Re: Your sig (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 years ago | (#29492103)

The constitution needs all the passages about laws "as necessary" removed before that is true. Who decides what is necesssary? The government, whose three branches are acting more in concert than in opposition.

I think you are confused. The as necessary clauses are specific to the objective it's surrounded by. It's not some blanket allowance to make any law they want. That's why there is so many "as necessary" clauses and why they are added to amendments when the amendments are added.

Totally failing to address the issue of political parties in the constitution was also a gigantic fuckup that ignores the nature of man

I do not see a problem with the two party system nor do I see anything that should be required in the constitution about it. It's not the parties or the party system that broken, it's the people inside the parties. Adding more parties or banning them altogether will do nothing at all to address that.

How about putting some protections for life in the constitution? The founders knew that any rights not enumerated would be ignored, and even paid homage to that fact, but did nothing about it. Hindsight may be 20/20, but some of the verbiage in the constitution seems to me to have been inserted to deliberately create loopholes.

Up until Roosevelt (FDR, not his cousin Teddy), the constitution has always been viewed as a permissive document and the government could only act on what the constitution specifically allow. This was specifically addressed in the articles of confederation (the constitution before the constitution), the federalist papers, and personal letters between founding fathers.

Roosevelt changed this with the new deal legislation and it's been taken advantage of ever since. Roosevelt knew what he was doing was unconstitutional and did it anyways. Two years before FDR became president, he gave a speech concerning the Volstead act which marked the 18th amendment and prohibition. In the speech, he clearly shows his understanding and aptitude for this sentiment when he says

"As a matter of fact and law, the governing rights of the States are all of those which have not been surrendered to the National Government by the Constitution or its amendments. Wisely or unwisely, people know that under the Eighteenth Amendment Congress has been given the right to legislate on this particular subject1, but this is not the case in the matter of a great number of other vital problems of government, such as the conduct of public utilities, of banks, of insurance, of business, of agriculture, of education, of social welfare and of a dozen other important features. In these, Washington must not be encouraged to interfere."

The speech was printed in the New York Times on March 3 1930.

Re: Your sig (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29488031)

Because "securing our country" means "invade a country which has nothing to do with us".

Funny how it's more patriotic to support an invasion based on, at best, bad intelligence rather than support health care reforms, y'know, seeing as he failed in securing the country entirely in both invasions.

Also, hi, I'm from Australia, I have socialised health care and it's no disaster. Europe tells me it works well too.

I suppose this research is useless for 90% of americans anyway, because even if it was ever useful for people, they wouldn't be able to afford it, because you have the worst healthcare system in the entire first world.

Re: Your sig (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#29492601)

Because somehow getting revenge for 3000 lives in a decade is protecting our country. Yet saving the lives of 22,000 [pnhp.org] people who die EVERY YEAR because they don't have health insurance isn't.

Re:For those who don't know... (1)

Mr. Firewall (578517) | about 5 years ago | (#29491701)

Yes, I agree that it is totally unethical and inappropriate to injure rats in the name of "research". They are supposed to use lawyers instead, because:

  • There is getting to be a shortage of rats;
  • Scientists sometimes form an emotional attachment to the rats; and
  • There are some things even a rat won't do.

Re:For those who don't know... (2, Interesting)

PitaBred (632671) | about 5 years ago | (#29492143)

Sorta like the hypocrites in charge of PETA [consumerfreedom.com] ?

But I believe her. There's no hypocrisy... she's benefiting from past animal research, but she'll be damned if anyone else can benefit from future research. That's not hypocritical, right?

Re:For those who don't know... (1)

vaporland (713337) | about 5 years ago | (#29499869)

no more rat telethons, I guess...

Re:For those who don't know... (2, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | about 5 years ago | (#29487467)

The process involves a serotonin-influencing drug

Looks like code for "we shot them full of XTC", so I'm sure they felt relaxed and loved despite the broken spine.

Re:For those who don't know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29489937)

Not necessarily, there are plenty of weaker serotonin agonists ... some of which, particularly the piperazines, have found their way into crappy pills to the extent that it's difficult to find good ones nowadays.

Re:For those who don't know... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#29493963)

Looks like code for "we shot them full of XTC", so I'm sure they felt relaxed and loved despite the broken spine.

Should have shot them up with Adam Ant, but that's just my opinion.

Re:For those who don't know... (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about 5 years ago | (#29493815)

Kind of similar to the tests where they found human lung cancer tumors in mice given THC shrunk and were less likely to metastasize in mice given THC (thats the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis for those who don't know) than in the control group. Or the two other tests done by other labs that found the same thing for breast and prostate cancers?

I mean, yah, they inserted tumors into healthy mice. Of course they did! How else could they do a test on human cancer cells? It isn't code. Its like, when I say I drove my car here today, that obviously means at some point I purchased a car, and filled it with gas. Do I need to give you the whole history of my automobile every time I want to talk about the traffic jam this morning?

-Steve

Great, first zombie fish, now invulnerable rats! (4, Funny)

DoninIN (115418) | about 5 years ago | (#29486179)

Guys, can you stop enabling lower life forms and pests to recover from any injury or indignity that we can dish out? You're teaching decapitated cockroaches to live for days, paralyzed rats to walk, dead fish to think. Is it any wonder our days as the dominant species are over?

I for one welcome our... undead invulnerable rat/fish overlords?

Re:Great, first zombie fish, now invulnerable rats (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486257)

It's funny that you consider rats to be a lower life form. They think the same of you. =^_^=

Re:Great, first zombie fish, now invulnerable rats (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486331)

Oh Dougles Adams, your tl;dr trilogy in four,five or whatever parts was so deeply unfunny,
and yet I must see nerds making references to it ad nauseam.

"Don't forget your towel HURDURR" Yeah, fuck off neckbeards.

Re:Great, first zombie fish, now invulnerable rats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486399)

NECKBEARDS IS MY NEW FAVORITE INSULT O___O. However your "Too long; didn't read" note made you sound incredibly ignorant. ;/

Re:Great, first zombie fish, now invulnerable rats (4, Funny)

Kratisto (1080113) | about 5 years ago | (#29486661)

Sounds like SOMEONE forgot his towel...

Re:Great, first zombie fish, now invulnerable rats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486533)

I can see a rat thinking like that. Mice, on the other hand, are beyond such petty speciesism.

Re:Great, first zombie fish, now invulnerable rats (2, Insightful)

Landshark17 (807664) | about 5 years ago | (#29486917)

It's funny that you consider rats to be a lower life form. They think the same of you. =^_^=

No, that's the white mice.

But I cripped them for a reason! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486191)

They want to eat my cheese? MY CHEESE? Hell no! I was teaching them a lesson. You try to eat my cheese, you never walk again.

Some would say I'm cruel. To them I say, I could've just killed them.

Being a lab rat must suck... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486197)

First they remove your spine, taking away complete or any control over your limbs. Then they keep you alive, even though in the wild without limbs, you'd be a goner and wouldn't have to suffer every day. Then they hook you up to machines and zap your legs back to life again...but you don't have control over them.

While this is certainly in the interest of science and progress it does come at the cost of animal torture. Though I'm sure if was in a car accident and a doctor said "we can restore your leg functions but first we must cripple/kill 100 rats" I'd say "kill 1,000".

Re:Being a lab rat must suck... (1)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | about 5 years ago | (#29486691)

Indeed. Check out what happened to this one [theonion.com] .

Seriously though, it does suck to be a lab rat; however, omelet, eggs.

Re:Being a lab rat must suck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29488333)

First they remove your spine, taking away complete or any control over your limbs. Then they keep you alive, even though in the wild without limbs, you'd be a goner and wouldn't have to suffer every day. Then they hook you up to machines

You forgot to mention 'feed you 3 times a day and keep you clean and healthy'. Hardly sounds like torture to me.

I love how animal-rights nuts always assume that animals' mental experience is comparable to humans'. Do you think the rat gives a shit that it can't walk? It probably doesn't even know. And it's definitely not upset that its plans to train for the 2014 Olympics are shot to hell. It gets fed and it's not experiencing pain: I guarantee that rat is happier than any rat in the wild.

Animal rights are retarded. You might as well get upset about killing an unresponsive program with Task Manager.

Re:Being a lab rat must suck... (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | about 5 years ago | (#29492809)

You forgot to mention 'feed you 3 times a day and keep you clean and healthy'.

Let's be fair, they were kept otherwise healthy, aside from the paralysis thing.

That said, resposible medical research on non-human animals sure beats the alternative: medical research on humans with the given condition. Of course, it's difficult to convince people to let you induce conditions, and if you take advantage of their socio-economic status to get them to sign up you're even worse. Don't even start with the loss of funding as soon as something goes wrong.

Jom & Terry (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 years ago | (#29486201)

Extra points if you make it chase a cat.

Michael Jackson may be dead... (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 years ago | (#29486215)

...but that doesn't mean his dancing career ended.

Re:Michael Jackson may be dead... (1)

Sebilrazen (870600) | about 5 years ago | (#29486593)

Too soon... I just drank a large soda and hadn't urinated yet.

Fatmouse. (0, Offtopic)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 5 years ago | (#29486219)

I have nothing useful to add to this discussion, but this mouse [h8r.net] could use a treadmill.

Overlords? (2, Insightful)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 5 years ago | (#29486223)

They should team up with the dead fish with feelings and take over the world.

Parent is insensitive (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486421)

Dead fish with feelings have feelings, you insensitive clod!

Re:Parent is insensitive (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 5 years ago | (#29492617)

Insensitive cods don't have feelings, you insensitive clod!

Finally! (0, Redundant)

Eric Smith (4379) | about 5 years ago | (#29486245)

I, for one, welcome our new paraplegic rat overlords!

Serotonin-influencing drug? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486387)

The process involves a serotonin-influencing drug

Wait... They're giving the rats MDMA?

Spinal reflex (5, Interesting)

izomiac (815208) | about 5 years ago | (#29486413)

Walking is apparently a spinal reflex. Back in the days before there were strict guidelines on animal research/cruelty some researchers verified this using an experiment. Basically, they had a cat on a treatmill and rigged a device (I'm picturing something from Saw) that severed its spinal cord without knocking it over. The cat kept walking! Since spinal reflexes are preserved if they're below the level of damage, this bodes well for this type of research. Balance would probably be an issue though, since the cerebellum is thought to play a pretty significant role in that. Given, it's unassisted walking, but I'm not convinced many paraplegics would stand for wearing large gyroscopes. Ah, that brings me to the other major hurdle with this technology: standing.

Interestingly enough, I'm wondering what'll happen if laser rifles ever became reality, or perhaps entered hard science fiction. How weird would it be for a patrolling guard to get shot in the head, but keep on walking...

Re:Spinal reflex (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486601)

Walking is apparently a spinal reflex...

The phrase "like a chicken with its head cut off" exists for a reason, and I suppose most of us know it, even if we have never seen it. I think this is an analogous phenomenon.

Re:Spinal reflex (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 5 years ago | (#29487695)

For more information on this fascinating subject [mikethehea...hicken.org]

Re:Spinal reflex (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | about 5 years ago | (#29486653)

Balance would probably be an issue though, since the cerebellum is thought to play a pretty significant role in that. Given, it's unassisted walking, but I'm not convinced many paraplegics would stand for wearing large gyroscopes.

I would think that many paraplegics would welcome the ability to move under the power of their own legs with the aid of something to substitute for balance (such as a harness to support their weight in a standing position). While it would undoubtedly be awkward and stare-inducing, the psychological difference between being "in a chair" (and literally looked down upon), and being able to stagger up to people and look them in the eye at their own level, could be worth it.

Re:Spinal reflex (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486811)

If? You mean *when* they do become reality. It is only a matter of time, mark my words. Humans *love* advancing tech to kill or maim each other, laser rifles or handguns? Absolutely.

Medicinal Value of psychoactive drugs? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486505)

Many psychoactive drugs have been shown to influence serotonin levels as described in the article. For example, LSD has been shown to be a 5HT2A antagonist [biopsychiatry.com] . This study suggests that these drugs could have a very significant medical application. In the US, the Controlled Substances Act [wikipedia.org] categorizes LSD, and many other psychoactives, in Section 1, as a drug with the following qualities:

"(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse. (B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. (C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision."

This article suggests that many of the psychoactive drugs in section 1 are misplaced and have legitimate medical uses. Many of these same drugs have been shown to be non-addicting and have LD50 rates that are comparable to things like caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol, which implies that they meet none of these three conditions.

Congress needs to acknowledge that the power to decide what does or does not have medical uses lies with the medical community and not the federal government. The fact that scientific evidence repeatedly refutes the placement of these drugs in section 1 suggests that Congress had ulterior motives is passing this law.

Re:Medicinal Value of psychoactive drugs? (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 5 years ago | (#29486847)

I'm pretty strongly opposed to the war on drugs as well...I'm even in the process of starting a chapter of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy at my campus...but you don't appear to have read even the summary. Sure, it can get the rats walking again - but the rats aren't in control of _when_ (or presumably _where_) they walk. I don't think that making paraplegics walk uncontrollably (and into traffic or off of a cliff or into a lake....) will be considered a legitimate medical use...

Now, if they can figure out some way to fix that problem, then sure, that'll possibly be a good way to get some stuff off of schedule I that shouldn't be there. But I think we'd have better luck focusing on Marijuana, which not only has legitimate medical uses, but is actually being used medically in more than a quarter of our states.

Re:Medicinal Value of psychoactive drugs? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | about 5 years ago | (#29487519)

I once saw a documentary which showed a dutch guy who had Parkinson's disease (I think) before and after taking MDMA (XTC). The difference was day and night: before he couldn't stop shaking, afterwards he had enough control over his body to do gymnastics. That these drugs have valid medical applications is almost a given since they were synthesized just for that reason.

Re:Medicinal Value of psychoactive drugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29490207)

Nitpick: MDMA was first synthesised as an anoretic but rapidly withdrawn after the "side effects" became apparent :) AFAIK it was only when Shulgin rediscovered it that it was found useful for treating psychological problems. As a result of the fine work of MAPS there are multiple studies [maps.org] evaluating it for the treatment of severe post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions, but despite this and a wealth of medical evidence showing that MDMA is not sufficiently harmful to be in Schedule 1 / class A, I doubt that politicians will downgrade it anytime soon.

Re:Medicinal Value of psychoactive drugs? (1)

Mr. Firewall (578517) | about 5 years ago | (#29491883)

a documentary which showed a dutch guy who had Parkinson's disease (I think) before and after taking MDMA (XTC). The difference was day and night: before he couldn't stop shaking, afterwards he had enough control over his body to do gymnastics

I think that "documentary" was called Austin Powers: Goldmember [imdb.com] .

Re:Medicinal Value of psychoactive drugs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29496489)

Hey, I'm a pretty big supporter of government non-involvement, and pretty much against the whole war on drugs thing. But quite frankly, the last thing we need is a good percentage of the population having free access to LSD and other psychoactive drugs. Seriously.
Most people simply do not have the mental control, or psychological stability needed to be able to safely take a drug that wacks you out of your skull for 12+ hours at a time. There is a very good reason why in tribal cultures access to such substances was only given through a shaman or medicine man, and only in very controlled conditions.

I do think substances like this should be allowed in clinical and lab environments (hell you can get cocaine and opiates from your doctor) especially for research and advanced treatments.
It might not be physically addictive in the same way narcotics are, but it certainly can be quite mentally addictive especially with someone who is trying to escape from reality. It can also really mess you up in the head if you don't know what you're doing, especially if taken in high doses over an extended period of time.

Attratiive (1)

Under_score+1 (1610199) | about 5 years ago | (#29486619)

Whenever my legs are only controlled by my spine I find myself standing next to the nearest hot girl.

An unrelated RPG story (-1, Offtopic)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | about 5 years ago | (#29486645)

In the early 90s, I wrote an RPG called,"Intergalactic Bounty Hunter." I took what I learned from other RPGS and made better combat mechanics(actually worse in some ways after play testing). The setting was space after Earth was destroyed and warp drive was invented and cheap so lots of vehicles could travel in space. The idea is that there were only a few out posts where people lived and worked, but there was all of space to hide in. So criminals found it similar to the old west where they could rob and then flee to space. This is why there were bounty hunters.

One time, my friend got a mutant power(blatant ripoff of Xmen), and he was able to charge things with kinetic energy(not like Gambit). So he found two mice and shot them at a guy with great velocity. He asked me if they lived. I said ,"No". He said,"You didn't roll. You roll for everything" So I privately rolled four 1d20, and if a 1 comes up, that is a rare success. I rolled all four 1s. So I had a strange look on my face and told him,"Ok, you don't know if they survived or not."

The battle raged and then he went looking for the mice, but he couldn't find them because they were up in a melted plasma cannon turret, so the party continued onward. And me, being the devious GM that I am, figured the mice to mutate to be super smart with the mutant power even though they became parapalegic. They used parts from the plasma turret to rebuild their limbs and then they built machinery to enable transportation and survival. This was before Pinky and the Brain. They were two parapalegic mice trying to defeat the Quadlek(furry 4 armed mutant-Player Character) that made them this way.

Once they tracked down the Quadlek that made them this way and was about to kill him, he said,"Hey I may have crippled you, but I made you super smart too." And with that they decided not to kill him, but instead to conquer the universe. So they became yet another recurring character in the RPG. I also thought,"If only I knew someone to make a cartoon involving 2 mice trying to take over the world that it'd make excellent episodic content." and 1 year later Pinky and the Brain came out.

I'm really good at coming up with successful ideas that other people eventually implement! Its cool that I have a few ideas on my plate now. #1 is Voteandnews.com - Hyperdemocracy realized. #2 Is a governmental redesign of education that uses the Internet for resources #3 An ebay competitor that also allows people to list things permanently for sale #4 is roamingdragon.com #5 is an adaptation of Intergalactic Bounty Hunter that allows PNP to be adapted to game master driven CRPG

My old ideas are found here [goodnewsjim.com]

Ah well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29486799)

It looks like the most important field for the development of spinal injury repairs is still stem cell research.

Someone get these rats some Mirapex! (2, Funny)

ZackSchil (560462) | about 5 years ago | (#29486921)

This looks like the worst case of Restless Leg Syndrome of all time.

Walking paraplegic rats!? (1)

atheistmonk (1268392) | about 5 years ago | (#29486999)

I smell a rat.

In other news, Galvani noticed this 220 years ago (1)

NewsWatcher (450241) | about 5 years ago | (#29487147)

This experiment no doubt sparks a bit of interest (pun intended) but the relationship between electrical stimulation and leg movement is fairly well known.

Luigi Galvani [wikipedia.org] noticed way back in the 1700s that the legs of a dead frog would twitch if its sciatic nerve was hit by static electricity.

The idea that human's with spinal cord damage may be able to walk using this technique sounds to me fanciful, because the electricity needs to be directed. It seems more like a technique that would be able to provoke something similar to an epileptic seizure in these patients (which is of course caused by electrical discharges in the brain).

It may be useful for other reasons though. People with spinal cord damage can have their leg muscles waste away through disuse, meaning if a real cure is ever found, they may still be left unable to walk.

Perhaps this work will enable them to be more easily rehabilitated in the future, should it prove useful at stimulating dis-used muscles.

Re:In other news, Galvani noticed this 220 years a (1)

Renraku (518261) | about 5 years ago | (#29488087)

Muscles and spine are only half the battle. Without the balance loop from the brain, walking would be impossible. The only reason we can walk, being an upside down pyramid shape due to our hips, is because we have great ankles and feet, and because our brain subconsciously controls them for optimal balance.

The big thing about muscle tone is just to keep it. When any muscle is completely cut off from the brain, the muscle goes slack. The muscle will waste away very quickly, but perhaps a 'tone generator' can be developed as well? Something to be installed shortly after spinal injury to make sure the muscles still exist.

Re:In other news, Galvani noticed this 220 years a (2, Informative)

baegucb (18706) | about 5 years ago | (#29488151)

They already exist. After a bad motorcycle accident (almost severed a hand off), I had the use of an electrical muscle stimulator that would shock the surface of my skin causing the muscles to spasm. Not as effective as regular therapies and exercise, but I could have it on all the time getting continuous benefit.

Hooray for the rats (1)

icepick72 (834363) | about 5 years ago | (#29487437)

These rats are getting better medical treatment that I am!

Walking without brain power, you say? (1)

Antarctic Pirates (1640435) | about 5 years ago | (#29487499)

This could actually get out of shape people to exercise. Just put their lazy asses on a treadmill and feed several volts of electrical stimulation to their spine. I smell a business opportunity. brb starting company

Re:Walking without brain power, you say? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#29488875)

Cue the guy at the start of The Diamond Age who had nanotech implants that constantly flexed his muscles, giving him a body builder physique with zero effort...

OLD (1)

karlwilson (1124799) | about 5 years ago | (#29487679)

Zombies have been doing this for centuries.

well it's a good thing (1)

okmijnuhb (575581) | about 5 years ago | (#29487759)

It's a good thing they're curing all these rats.
How did so many of them get injured?

Re:well it's a good thing (0, Troll)

hydrolyzer (1637811) | about 5 years ago | (#29488645)

new /.er here, if I knew how to mod you redundant I would.

Human Applicaitons (1)

ConstableBrew (1335195) | about 5 years ago | (#29488335)

So for humans, would this mean when you have sex with your wife, you have to think of someone else for it to get up?

Is this? (1)

Zygfryd (856098) | about 5 years ago | (#29488555)

The first step towards the reality of the recent movie, "Gamer"?

I for one welcome our new remote spine-controlling overlords!

after "injury" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29489045)

what always gets me about these stories, however, revolutionary they might be to science. Is that underlying it all. Some fuckwad of a scientists spends his time crippling rats "to see what happens and see if we can fix it".

I knew a neuro scientists once who spent her PhD and post PhD years seeing how long she could keep brains cells alive for under a microscope. Rats and monkeys were all "used" for this. AT least 10 years of "research" in which she would proudly claim to keep them "alive" for over 5 minutes. Great for her, big achievment, hurray for her! Fucking shit for the rats and monkeys who "donated" their brain tissue.

when are we going to realise that this kind of "research" isn't right. Surely there has to be better ways of learning than this?

Re:after "injury" (1)

mike2R (721965) | about 5 years ago | (#29489319)

when are we going to realise that this kind of "research" isn't right. Surely there has to be better ways of learning than this?

If we were talking about testing cosmetics then I would agree with you.

But this sort of research, and that of the neuro scientist you knew, is research that may increase our knowledge of biology. And increasing our knowledge of biology is how we go about developing new cures for sick humans.

As far as I, and the large majority of people, is concerned, this is an ethical trade-off worth making. Yes there is suffering to animals, and I wouldn't support that if they were doing it for fun, but the long term benefits to humanity from this sort of research make it ethical; the alternative is to suspend animal research, or to restrict it so much (ie make scientists prove a direct medical benefit) that new cures will be delayed.

You may not agree, but most people do, so don't hold your breath while waiting for a change.

Re:after "injury" (1)

e4g4 (533831) | about 5 years ago | (#29492407)

Most of the people responsible for testing on animals love animals just as much as the GP, and treat them as kindly and humanely as is possible under the circumstances. Suffering is minimized via anesthetics whenever possible, and while ultimately yes, animals lives are spent in this process, keep in mind that in the vast majority of cases - these animals would not be alive in the first place were it not because they were needed for this type of research.

My mother (at one time a cardiovascular pharmacologist (read: she studied the effects of drugs on animals)) told me a story about how one monday morning, she came back to her lab to find that it had been broken into, and all the animals had been "set free". Meaning that otherwise perfectly healthy animals were on the verge of death due to blood loss because they had torn their sutures, and animals that needed to remain immobilized (for other reasons) did serious damage to themselves with their newfound "freedom".

Now - I am certainly not equating the attitudes of those responsible for the above anecdote to those of the GP, but I think that people need to understand that the people who do research with animals love animals too, and as a result will always do everything in their power to minimize the suffering of animals. While their actions in this regard are of course bound by the subject and requirements of the study, and some animals are, of course, killed in the process - we are ultimately getting mountains of useful information (that nearly everyone in the developed world is currently benefitting from) in as humane a way as we possibly can.

Re:after "injury" (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#29493641)

A whole lot can happen in a nerve cell in 5 minutes. Tag some interesting proteins with GFP and you can watch them shuttle around the cell. Then treat the nerve cell with pharmacueticals and you have an awesome model system for understanding neurotransmission. When you learn new things about neurotransmission, you can come up with new and better ways for treating diseases. That's a big deal.

If you don't think animal research is ethical, I'd recommend you refuse any medical treatments supported by animal studies.

Re:after "injury" (1)

cffrost (885375) | about 5 years ago | (#29494541)

I knew a neuro scientists once who spent her PhD and [blah blah blah...]

Yeah yeah yeah, but was she hot?

Not particularly new or unique (2, Interesting)

gordguide (307383) | about 5 years ago | (#29489453)

I personally know a researcher at the UofSaskatchewan (Canada) who has been working on this for more than a decade ... in that case an injection of a drug, administered within half an hour of injury, completely repairs a damaged spine. In rats, no treadmill required, they scamper about as if nothing had happened. The rat trials, repeated many times over many years, are over and have been over for years.
Primate trials are nearing completion and there is talk of having the drug available on Ambulances within two years, as it's considered viable to fast track human trials on actual injuries rather than clinical trials.

I also know of at least one researcher in the UK who has similar results using a somewhat different methodology.

In other words this is an interesting result and article, but this particular team is somewhat behind the current research, which is far advanced beyond simple rat trials.

Reeves (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 5 years ago | (#29491703)

Yay! They'll finally be able to make Christopher Reeves walk again!
They've been talking about this for some time since he died, but it soulds like they will finally make this wish come true. Too bad it didn't involve ground up babies like they wanted.

This is the new frontier. (1)

blhack (921171) | about 5 years ago | (#29492995)

Perhaps cognitive bias since I have been reading a lot about it lately, but I firmly believe neuroscience will be the next great technological frontier.

I expect near-direct neural interfaces within my lifetime (no, I'm not joking), I expect fully-robotic limb replacement with sensory feedback within my lifetime, I expect the ability to do full reality-replacement (a la the matrix) within my lifetime.

Am I optimistic? Maybe, but these things, I believe, are nearly within the our grasp even with current technology. If you didn't see it, there was a demonstration did some years ago where some neuroscientists connected a motor control and a wall-sensor to a rat brain and the brain "learned" how to control it.

This was, likely, the stone age of what we're going to see, but it is still *extremely* exciting to see that kind of research, and this kind of research happening.

My prediction is that you're going to see what can only be described as "biological computers" very, very soon (I hope). While this has lots of scary ethical implications, I think it is the natural progression of the field. Brains are really, really friggin' cool devices. They are not likely something that we are going to be able to replicate with our current approach to computing. Things like the blue-brain project are really cool, but the applications of it are slim to none. A blue-brain type of computer is certainly not something that I can put in my lawn-mower so that it knows not to mow over my landscaping rocks. A simple, lab-grown brain is.

Does this not make any sense? I was caving all day yesterday and got about zero sleep. I am also very dehydrated right now.

Please disregard this message.

Ahhh (0, Redundant)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 5 years ago | (#29493709)

That's how they invented Restless Leg Syndrome!

Human spinal cord rehab (1)

edlan2001 (1562785) | about 5 years ago | (#29495797)

This sort of research is being applied at a more practical level. There are centers in the US and Germany which used this basic research in the rehabilitation of spinal cord injury victims. For example: http://www.stjohnsmercyrehab.com/inpatient/spinalcordinjury.asp [stjohnsmercyrehab.com] With partial spinal cord injuries there has been recovery of motor function.
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