No Barriers

Rita Levi Montalcini was absolutely certain when she claimed that the most important event occurred in the last century was the fall of the barriers which isolated the researchers of the Central Nervous System from the other scientists.

Indeed, until recently, anatomy, physiology and neurology scientists considered the nervous system their own property according to Rita Levi Montalcini who, it is worth remembering, discovered the NGF, the first of a long line of neurotrophic factors which would change the clinical and therapeutic approach to numerous and important diseases of the SNC like Alzheimer, Parkinson and other diseases of considerable human, social and health impact, even though she was not a brain expert. But the matter does not end here as the Nobel Laureate argued that once the barriers which had taken away the brain and its functions from the eyes of the scientific world, except for the dedicated one, collapse a lot of people will be able to give their contribution to the understanding of its numerous and somehow unknown functions. Among the new elected ones Prof. Levi Moltalcini included mathematicians, physicists, computer scientists and all those scholars, researchers, doctors and surgeons working, in their own sectors, to understand the functions of the S.N.C. in order to improve the fate of so many people in the world who suffer from congenital, degenerative and traumatic diseases which often isolated them from the rest of the world. I can not help making such considerations today because, in the organisation of the Symposium taking place in December (already in an advanced stage now) we keep getting abstracts of works which we ourselves would have rejected until twenty years ago because deemed far from our basic research on spinal cord regeneration and repair following a trauma. Instead no. Modern medicine takes so many and such giant leaps that it quickly leaves judgements and prejudices behind so that all researchers are on the same level where the scalpel is not only just a sharp knife but it often becomes a smart molecule, even a "nano molecule", capable of opening invisible locks and then carrying out its repairing, regenerating and therapeutic function.
The spinal cord too, once looked upon as a sort of appendix of the brain which was simply difficult to repair, is gaining its fundamental and strategic importance today so that we can now talk about the existence, fully scientifically based, of " human lumbar cord network and spinal brain ", a group of neurons of the spinal lumbar cord which can give paraplegics a partial automatic ambulation following a long rehabilitation.
Our research, which has been trying to give movement back to people for 30 years despite the well known non permissiveness of the spinal cord to the healing due to the downward advancement of the axons which regenerate from the cerebral neurons, gains all its real importance today. Recent studies carried out in several laboratories worldwide and in our Foundation in particular, have allowed to open up to new research and to obtain new certainties regarding the possibilities to repair, at least partially, the lesions to the spinal cord.
The problem of the non permissiveness of the spinal cord, due to the advancement (distally) of the axons which regenerate coming from the cerebral neurons, has not been solved yet but it has been tackled with new refined microsurgery techniques inserting the autologous nerve into the corticospinal tract of the spinal cord thus bypassing the non permissiveness of the spinal cord. Today, due to our research, we can express a new extremely interesting theory: the neurons of the brain are capable of plasticity ( change of function ) not only following the transfer of connections in their own cortical area but also of multiple single neurons scattered in the cortex which had different functions previously. The knowledge of this new form of plasticity paves new ways to microsurgery and, I am sure, will allow new surgical approaches to the cure of spinal cord lesions. That is what we all strongly believe and hope.

Please accept the privacy policy View policy