Epigenetic treatment improves spinal cord regeneration in mice after severe injury

Researchers, led by Simone Di Giovanni, PhD, Chair of Restorative Neuroscience at Imperial College London, tested a small molecule called TTK21 – which alters the epigenetic state of genes by activating the CBP/p300 family of proteins co- activators – in a mouse model of severe spinal cord injury. After TTK21 treatment, gene activation resulted in greater axonal outgrowth, regenerative signaling, and synaptic plasticity than control treatment.

While spinal cord injury (SCI) currently has no effective treatment, the researchers conclude that their work “provides direct evidence that clinically appropriate pharmacological CBP/p300 activation can promote the expression of genes associated with axonal regeneration and growth in chronic SCI with severe neurological impairment.”

Di Giovanni said in a statement that TTK21 administered systemically once weekly after chronic spinal cord injury in animals “may promote neuronal regrowth and an increase in synapses necessary for neuronal transmission” and that researchers are “currently exploring combining this drug with strategies that bridge the spinal cord gap such as biomaterials as possible avenues to improve disability in patients with IBS.”

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