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
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 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 3,700+ 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

Study Finds Brain Chemicals that Keep Wakefulness in Check
Researchers to develop new drugs that promote better sleep, or control hyperactivity in people with mania.
Saturday, August 01, 2015
Fossil Fuel Emissions will Complicate Radiocarbon Dating, Warns Scientist
The paper is published in the journal PNAS.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Scientists Find New Variant of Streptococcal Bacteria Causing Severe Infections
Researchers noticed a sharp rise in infections caused by emm89.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis Shows Encouraging Trial Results
A therapy that replaces the faulty gene responsible for cystic fibrosis in patients' lungs has produced encouraging results in a major UK trial.
Friday, July 03, 2015
New Genetic Form of Obesity and Diabetes Discovered
Scientists have discovered a new inherited form of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
New Genetic Form of Obesity and Diabetes Discovered
Scientists have discovered a new inherited form of obesity and type 2 diabetes in humans.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Researchers Develop New Breath Test to Diagnose Oesophageal and Gastric Cancer
Test will now be tested in a larger trial involving three hospitals in London.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
'Crumpled' Filter to Slash Energy Consumption
Scientists have developed an ultra-thin, super-strong membrane to filter liquids and gases, with the potential to cut energy consumption in industry.
Friday, June 19, 2015
Imperial Researchers Win Health Foundation Grant for Cancer Innovation Study
Each project will receive over £450,000 of funding to support the research.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Engineering Bacteria for Vaccine Delivery
An eight million Euro project has been launched with the aim of engineering bacteria to deliver vaccines against antibiotic-resistant infections.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Diet Swap has Dramatic Effects on Colon Cancer Risk for Americans and Africans
New study confirms that a high fibre diet can substantially reduce risk.
Saturday, May 02, 2015
Alcoholic Hepatitis Treatments Fail to Keep Patients Alive
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Friday, May 01, 2015
Urine Profiles Provide Clues To How Obesity Causes Disease
Scientists have identified chemical markers in urine associated with body mass, providing insights into how obesity causes disease.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Protein That Boosts Immunity to Viruses and Cancer Discovered
Researchers now developing a gene therapy designed to boost the infection-fighting cells.
Saturday, April 18, 2015
Protein That Boosts Immunity To Viruses And Cancer Discovered
Scientists have discovered a protein that plays a central role in promoting immunity to viruses and cancer, opening the door to new therapies.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Scientific News
Study Finds Brain Chemicals that Keep Wakefulness in Check
Researchers to develop new drugs that promote better sleep, or control hyperactivity in people with mania.
Sorting Through Cellular Statistics
Aaron Dinner, professor in chemistry, and his graduate student Herman Gudjonson are trying to read the manual of life, DNA, as part of the Dinner group’s research into bioinformatics—the application of statistics to biological research.
Playing 'Tag' with Pollution lets Scientists See Who's It
Using a climate model that can tag sources of soot from different global regions and can track where it lands on the Tibetan Plateau, researchers have determined which areas around the plateau contribute the most soot — and where.
Women’s Immune System Genes Operate Differently from Men’s
A new technology reveals that immune system genes switch on and off differently in women and men, and the source of that variation is not primarily in the DNA.
Long Telomeres Associated with Increased Lung Cancer Risk
Genetic predisposition for long telomeres predicts increased lung adenocarcinoma risk.
First Artificial Ribosome Designed
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Northwestern University have engineered a tethered ribosome that works nearly as well as the authentic cellular component, or organelle, that produces all the proteins and enzymes within the cell.
High-Resolution 3D Images Reveal the Muscle Mitochondrial Power Grid
NIH mouse study overturns scientific ideas on energy distribution in muscle.
Expanding the Brain
A team of researchers has identified more than 40 new “imprinted” genes, in which either the maternal or paternal copy of a gene is expressed while the other is silenced.
Identifying a Key Growth Factor in Cell Proliferation
Researchers discover that aspartate is a limiter of cell proliferation.
Study Uncovers Target for Preventing Huntington’s Disease
Scientists from Cardiff University believe that a treatment to prevent or delay the symptoms of Huntington’s disease could now be much closer, following a major breakthrough.
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
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!