Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

New Discovery Gives Hope that Nerves Could be Repaired After Spinal Cord Injury

Published: Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Research highlights the role of a protein called P300/CBP-associated factor.

A new discovery suggests it could one day be possible to chemically reprogram and repair damaged nerves after spinal cord injury or brain trauma.

Researchers from Imperial College London and the Hertie Institute, University of Tuebingen have identified a possible mechanism for re-growing damaged nerve fibres in the central nervous system (CNS). This damage is currently irreparable, often leaving those who suffer spinal cord injury, stroke or brain trauma with serious impairments like loss of sensation and permanent paralysis.

Published in Nature Communications, the research highlights the role of a protein called P300/CBP-associated factor (PCAF), which appears to be essential for the series of chemical and genetic events that allow nerves to regenerate. Regenerating nerve fibres is one of the best hopes for those suffering from CNS damage to recover.

When researchers injected PCAF into mice with damage to their central nervous system, this significantly increased the number of nerve fibres that grew back, indicating that it may be possible to chemically control the regeneration of nerves in the CNS.

"The results suggest that we may be able to target specific chemical changes to enhance the growth of nerves after injury to the central nervous system," said lead study author Professor Simone Di Giovanni, from Imperial College London's Department of Medicine. "The ultimate goal could be to develop a pharmaceutical method to trigger the nerves to grow and repair and to see some level of recovery in patients. We are excited about the potential of this work but the findings are preliminary.

"The next step is to see whether we can bring about some form of recovery of movement and function in mice after we have stimulated nerve growth through the mechanism we have identified. If this is successful, then there could be a move towards developing a drug and running clinical trials with people. We hope that our new work could one day help people to recover feeling and movement, but there are many hurdles to overcome first," he added.

The researchers were interested in understanding how axons in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) make a vigorous effort to grow back when they are damaged, whereas CNS axons mount little or no effort. If damage occurs in the peripheral nervous system, which controls areas outside of the brain and spinal cord, about 30% of the nerves grow back and there is often recovery of movement and function. The researchers wanted to explore whether it was possible to generate a similar response in the CNS.

Co-author Dr Radhika Puttagunta from the University of Tuebingen said: "With this work we add another level of understanding into the specific mechanisms of how the body is able to regenerate in the PNS and have used this knowledge to drive regeneration where it is lacking in the CNS. We believe this will help further our understanding of mechanisms that could enhance regeneration and physical recovery after CNS injury."

To investigate the differences between how the two systems respond to damage, the researchers looked at mouse models and cells in culture. They compared the responses to PNS damage and CNS damage in a type of neuron called a dorsal root ganglion, which connects to both the CNS and the PNS.

They found that epigenetic mechanisms were at the core of this capacity to regenerate. Epigenetic mechanisms are processes that, without altering our DNA, manage to activate or deactivate genes in response to the environment. They normally take the form of chemical reactions and have been shown to control how genes influence diseases such as cancer and diabetes. However this is the first demonstration of a specific epigenetic mechanism responsible for nerve regeneration.

When nerves are damaged in the PNS, the damaged nerves send 'retrograde' signals back to the cell body to switch on an epigenetic program to initiate nerve growth. Very little was previously known about the mechanism which allows this 'switching on' to occur.

The researchers identified the sequence of chemical events that lead to the 'switching on' of the program to initiate nerve regrowth and pinpointed the protein PCAF as being central to the process. Furthermore when they injected PCAF into mice with damage to their central nervous system, there was a significant increase in the number of nerve fibres that grew back.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Zika Epidemic Likely to End Within Three Years
A team of scientists has predicted that the current Zika epidemic is likely to end within three years because there will be too few people left to infect.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Sound Waves May Hold Potential to Treat Twin Pregnancy Complications
Researchers at Imperial College London have found that the high energy sound waves could treat a potentially deadly complication that affects some twin pregnancies.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Viral hepatitis kills as Many as Malaria, TB or HIV/AIDS
Viral hepatitis is one of the leading killers across the globe, with a death toll that matches AIDS or tuberculosis.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
Supplement May Switch off Cravings for High-Calorie Foods
Researchers have found that inulin-propionate ester supplement curbs cravings for junk food.
Saturday, July 02, 2016
Dengue Virus Exposure May Amplify Zika Infection
Researchers at Imperial College London have found that the previous exposure to the dengue virus may increase the potency of Zika infection.
Friday, June 24, 2016
£14m EU Project To Aid Meningitis Diagnosis and Cut Antibiotic Use
An international team of doctors are aiming to develop a rapid test to allow medics to quickly identify bacterial infection in children.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
New Bio-Glass Could Make it Possible to Re-Grow or Replace Cartilage
Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a material that can mimic cartilage and potentially encourage it to re-grow.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Gene Expression Controls Revealed
Researchers have modelled every atom in a key part of the process for switching on genes, revealing a whole new area for potential drug targets.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Crucial Reaction for Vision Revealed
Scientists have tracked the reaction of a protein responding to light, paving the way for a new understanding of life's essential reactions.
Monday, May 16, 2016
Scans Reveal Babies of Mothers with Gestational Diabetes Have More Body Fat
Researchers at Imperial College London have found that the babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes have more body fat at two months of age compared to babies born to healthy mothers.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
The Brain on LSD: New Scans Show How the Drug Affects the Brain
Researchers at Imperial College London have visualised the effects of LSD on the brain.
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Cost of Diabetes Hits 825 Billion Dollars a Year
The global cost of diabetes is now 825 billion dollars per year, according to the largest ever study of diabetes levels across the world.
Thursday, April 07, 2016
World's Obese Population Hits 640 Million
More than one in ten men and one in seven women across the globe are now obese, according to the world's biggest obesity study.
Friday, April 01, 2016
Interactive Maps Reveal Global Obesity
World’s obese population hits 640 million, according to largest ever study.
Friday, April 01, 2016
Switching Off Cancers' Ability to Spread
A key molecule in breast and lung cancer cells can help switch off the cancers' ability to spread around the body.
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Scientific News
Liquid Biopsies: Miracle Diagnostic or Next New Fad?
Thanks to the development of highly specific gene-amplification and sequencing technologies liquid biopsies access more biomarkers relevant to more cancers than ever before.
Connectome Map More Than Doubles Human Cortex’s Known Regions
Researchers at NIH have developed software that automatically detects the “fingerprint” of each of these areas in an individual’s brain scans.
Discovered Through ‘Big Data’ Analysis
Researchers at the SBP have identified over 100 new genetic regions that affect the immune response to cancer.
Human Stem Cells to Rapidly Generate Bone, Heart Muscle
A new study shows that combining positive and negative signals can quickly and efficiently steer stem cells down complex developmental pathways to become specialized tissues that could be used in the clinic.
New Mechanism of Tuberculosis Infection
Researchers at UTSW Medical Center have identified a new way that tuberculosis bacteria get into the body, revealing a potential therapeutic angle to explore.
New Therapeutic Targets For Small Cell Lung Cancer Identified
Researchers at UTSW Medical Center have identified a protein termed ASCL1 that is essential to the development of small cell lung cancer and that, when deleted in the lungs of mice, prevents the cancer from forming.
Eliminating Doubt in Criminal Investigations
New ASU certificate to help curb error, misunderstanding in the quest for justice.
Determination of 13 Organic Toxicants in Human Blood
Researchers have utilised liquid-liquid extraction coupling HPLC-MS/MS to identify and quantify organic toxicants in human blood.
A Novel Cell Culture Model For Forensic Biology Experiments
Researchers have developed a new cell culture model which provides an efficient research tool in forensic biology.
Rhino DNA Bank Aids Anti-Poaching Fight
At the University of Pretoria's Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) at Onderstepoort, Dr Cindy Harper and her team have developed a ground-breaking technique to collect and catalogue DNA from rhinos and rhino horns.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,800+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!