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Jacqueline Woolley, Chair The University of Texas at Austin, SEA 4.212, Austin, TX 78712 • (512) 475-7596

Psychology faculty team with researchers to develop new method to speed repair of damaged nerves

Posted: June 2, 2012
from left: Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, Timothy Schallert

from left: Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, Timothy Schallert

Drs. Tim Schallert and Francisco Gonzalez-Lima are part of a team of researchers engaged in an exciting new study which holds the promise of restoring a degree of mobility to victims of paralysis. The lead investigator of the study, neurobiologist George Bittner, had been trying to come up with a procedure to rejoin damaged peripheral nerves. Using tiny sutures and chemical compounds to fuse nerve endings together, he was able to hasten the healing process so that it takes only days, rather than months. The study was published in the May 2012 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Research ["Rapid, effective, and long-lasting behavioral recovery produced by microsutures, methylene blue, and polyethylene glycol after completely cutting rat sciatic nerves"].

This research was recently featured on National Public Radio (NPR).

Link to story and audio interview

Research by Gonzalez-Lima and Schallert contributed to this new method, which relied upon the use of chemical compounds applied in their own investigations. Schallert had been studying neurotoxin-induced neural damage on rats' brains for years. In 2009, he and Gonzalez-Lima co-authored a study showing that a dye called Methylene Blue (MB), a dye with powerful antioxidant and metabolic enhancing properties, might prevent neurotoxin-induced neural damage and associated functional deficits ["Striatal Neuroprotection with Methylene Blue"].

In 2012 Gonzalez-Lima co-authored another study using MB, providing the first demonstration of the anatomical, metabolic and behavioral neuroprotective effects of MB in the striatum in vivo. ["Neurometabolic mechanisms for memory enhancement and neuroprotection of methylene blue"]

Timothy Schallert is Professor of Psychology. His research on recovery of function after brain injury and treatment strategies for stroke, Parkinson's disease, brain tumors and spinal cord injury, has been funded by federal grants for over 30 years. 

Francisco Gonzalez-Lima holds the George I. Sanchez Centennial Professorship in Liberal Arts and Sciences. His laboratory has been at the forefront of animal neuroimaging studies of behavioral functions in the world. 

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