Spinal Cord Regrowth May Be Possible- but not tomorrow.

The ability to grow brain and spinal cord nerve cells is present at birth- and starts to disappear just like that as we age.  So, when we incur an injury to the spine or the brain- the axons (as discussed earlier) can’t regenerate.  It is thought that since these areas are replete with nerves and nerve fibers, they send signals to stop new connections from forming. By stopping new pathways from forming, our brain can’t be confused with by incorrect signals that could result from the new pathways.

When a finger is, unfortunately, severed, it can be reattached surgically.  Most times, the nerve fibers grow back and develop valid connections.  That’s why the finger can be used properly, with time. That does not happen with spinal cord injuries.  In this region, compounds are produced, axon regeneration inhibitors (these chemicals provide the signals described above), that stop such regeneration.

A team of researchers at Harvard University, UC San Diego and UC Irvine are trying to change just that, by switching on the pathway that turns off our ability to regenerate the nerve cells.  The two lead researchers, Osward Steward and Zhigang He, have been studying nerve plasticity- the ability of nerves to grow or make new connections to bypass damaged areas, for some time.  Their research found that PTEN (phosphatase tensin homolog),  a tumor suppression gene,  seems to be critical in the diminuation of neural regrowth.  By removing the PTEN gene, mTOR concentrations increased; together these seemed to be the critical controllers of corticospinal neuron regeneration.  On young mice, they found significant spinal cord nerve regeneration.   The results of this study will be published soon in Nature Neuroscience.  .

This research was predicated upon the removal of the gene.  It will be critical to find a means to turn off the pathway, for it to have utility for humans, as opposed to removing genes.  It is also unclear if this process would work in adult mice; the research used young mice, which may not have lost all their ability to regrow nerve cells.  It should be noted that this new result is not going to find its way to human trials soon.

Advertisements

About RAAckerman@Cerebrations.biz

A polymath whose interests span chemical engineering, medicine, biotechnology, business, management, among other areas. Among my inventions/developments: dialyzer, dialysate, neurosurgical drill, respiratory inspirometer, colon electrolyte lavages, urinary catheters, cardiac catheters, water reuse systems, drinking water system, ammonia degrading microbes, toxic chemical reduction via microbes, onsite waste water treatment, electronic health care information systems, bookkeeping and accounting programs, among others.
This entry was posted in Brain, Medicine and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Spinal Cord Regrowth May Be Possible- but not tomorrow.

  1. Pingback: Spinal Cord Regrowth May Be Possible- but not tomorrow … | Spinal Cord

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s