Researchers have produced "the most conclusive evidence to date" that severed nerves in the spinal cord can regenerate.
According to a new animal study by scientists from three US universities, scar tissue that forms around a spinal injury, causing blockage to the nerve pathway, can by bypassed.
Researchers used nerve fibres taken from the leg to regenerate the severed nerve around the "roadblock" of scar tissue, which forms around an injury.
The new accomplishment of this study - published in the Journal of Neuroscience - was to successfully kick start the nerve transmission again, using an enzyme to prevent scar tissue forming where the bypass had been made.
In order to test its success, the new bypasses were then severed, which resulted in all nerve communication once again being lost.
According to the study's senior author Jerry Silver, if the method is perfected and successful with primates, it could go to human trials within a relatively short time.
"While this was one small step for a rat, it was one giant leap for man," he said.