University Of St. AndrewsPeople suffering from spinal disease ought to pay attention to this piece of news. Dr. Gareth Miles from the University of St. Andrews claims to have found a neuron in the spinal cord that apparently regulates the power of signals transmitted by motor neurons to muscles.

This finding could have significant connotations for conditions like motor neuron disease and spinal cord injury where muscle weakness or paralysis arise. Dr Miles and colleagues in North America depict the new neurone as a ‘volume dial’ that supposedly regulates how powerfully muscles shrink during walking.

Dr. Miles remarked, “Walking is initiated by relatively simple `start¿ signals which are relayed from the brain to the spinal cord. Networks of neurons in the spinal cord are then responsible for controlling the complex pattern of muscle contractions which allow us to walk.”

“Importantly, this novel neurone allows the strength of muscle contractions to be adjusted to allow us to move in different ways or in different environments. It is hoped that by turning up the ‘volume dial’ formed by this new class of neurons, it will be possible to stimulate motor neurons to send stronger signals to muscles to overcome the loss of movement associated with injury and disease,” Dr. Miles further commented.

The researchers have known for quite some time that a chief kind of spinal neuron i.e. the motor neuron apparently transmits signals straightaway to muscles to make them shrink. The characteristics of other neurons in the spinal cord which is said to manage movement have supposedly been much harder to decode by the scientists.

The research was published by the journal Neuron.