Scientists at the UCSD School of Medicine and the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center have found that rats with spinal cord injuries can recover motor skills after just a few weeks due to spontaneous growth of the injured nerves.

The findings were published in the March 13 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article states that scientists removed spinal cord connections from the rats, which soon recovered coordinated forepaw movement.

The scientists believe that these findings indicate self-regeneration of the nerves, because 40 percent of humans who suffer from nerve damage in the spinal cord or from head trauma also spontaneously recover motor function.

Next, scientists will test whether their findings can lead to the development of techniques to ensure even more rapid recovery.

The study was conducted in the lab of UCSD associate professor of neurosciences Mark Tuszynski, with the assistance of UCSD department of neurosciences researchers Norbert Weidner, Arvin Ner and Nima Salimi.

Salute to Service Dogs to be Held March 18

Paws’tive Teams, an organization that trains and places dogs with disabled people, will hold its Salute to Service Dogs on Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m. in the Price Center Ballroom.

Kurt Benirschke from the San Diego Zoo will speak at the event. Some of the topics he will discuss include the use of dogs with large animals at the zoo and the training techniques used to teach the dogs to work with the animals. The ceremony will feature a puppy kissing booth and individual dogs will be recognized for their service to persons with disabilities. For more information, visit

Study Finds Mood Effects of Exercise May be Short-Lived

A study at the UCSD School of Medicine has found that ceasing exercise also stops its mood-enhancing effects.

The study was published in the March 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The new information confirmed the researchers’ hypothesis.

The pool of elderly participants were chosen from the northern San Diego community of Rancho Bernardo. The study followed their exercise habits through two time intervals, 1984 to 1987 and 1992 to 1995.

The study used the Beck Depression Inventory to assess the participants’ moods as they worked out three times a week. The study assessed the participants some time later and found that those who were still exercising were generally happier.

UCSD associate professor of family and preventative medicine Donna Kritz-Silverstein, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor and Catherine Corbeau conducted the study.

Heparin May Stop Cancer from Spreading in Mice

Researchers at the UCSD Cancer Center have found that the common drug heparin may stop the spread of cancer in mice by blocking interaction of normal blood cells and tumor cell molecules.

Past research with animals and heparin showed that the drug slows metastasis, the process by which tumor cells enter the bloodstream. However, studies using the drug have all but stopped, due to some unsuccessful attempts at the use of oral forms of the drug.

Ajit Varki authored the study with the help of postdoctoral fellow Lubor Borsig.