Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

1 small step for neurons, 1 giant leap for nerve cell repair

09.10.2009
Scientists create nerve cell connections in vitro using artificial substances, a major advance towards nerve cell repair

The repair of damaged nerve cells is a major problem in medicine today.

A new study by researchers at the Montreal NeurologicaI Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) and McGill University, is a significant advance towards a solution for neuronal repair. The study featured on the cover of the October 7 issue of Journal of Neuroscience, is the first to show that nerve cells will grow and make meaningful, functional contacts, or synapses - the specialized junctions through which neurons signal to each other - with an artificial component, in this case, plastic beads coated with a substance that encourages adhesion, and attracts the nerve cells.

"Many therapies, most still in the conceptual stage, are aimed at restoring the connection between the nerve cell and the severed nerve fibres that innervate a target tissue, typically muscle," says Dr. David Colman, Director of The Neuro and principal investigator in the study. "Traditional approaches to therapies would require the re-growth of a severed nerve fibre a distance of up to one meter in order to potentially restore function. The approach we are using however bypasses the need to force nerve cells to artificially grow these long distances, and eliminates the demand for two neurons to make a synapse, both of which are considerable obstacles to neuronal repair in a damaged system."

"We are tackling this problem in an entirely new way, as part of the McGill Program in NeuroEngineering," says Dr. Anna Lisa Lucido, who conducted research for the study as part of her PhD research at The Neuro and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at UCSF. "This program, spearheaded by Dr. Colman, is a multi-disciplinary consortium that brings together the knowledge, expertise and perspectives of 40 scientists from diverse fields to focus on the challenge of neuronal repair in the central nervous system. The approach we have taken is to help healthy nerve cells form functional contacts with artificial substrates in order to create a paradigm that can be adapted to model systems in which neurons are damaged. That approach will be combined with strategies to encourage the outgrowth of damaged neuronal branches through which these connections, or synapses, are formed. It's a challenging endeavour, but the ability to trigger connections to form on command is a promising start. Our ultimate goal is to create a combined platform in which damaged cells could be encouraged to both re-grow and re-establish their functional connections."

The synapses generated in this study are virtually identical to their natural counterparts except the 'receiving' side of the synapse is an artificial plastic rather than another nerve cell or the target tissue itself. This study is the first, using these particular devices, to show that adhesion is a fundamental first step in triggering synaptic assembly.

"Even though components of synapses have been induced in similar earlier studies, their functionality was not proven. In order to assess function - that is transmission of a signal from the synapse, we stimulated the nerve cells with electricity, sending the signal, an action potential, to the synapse. By artificially stimulating nerve cells in the presence of dyes, we could see that transmission had taken place as the dyes were taken up by the synapses."

"We believe that within the next five years we will have a fully functional device that will be able to directly convey natural nerve cell signals from the nerve cell itself to an artificial matrix containing a mini-computer that will communicate wirelessly with target tissues," says Dr. Colman. These results not only provide a model to understand how neurons are formed which can be employed in subsequent studies but, provides hope for those affected and potentially holds promise for the use of artificial substrates in the repair of damaged nerves.

About the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital
Celebrating 75 years
The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) is a unique academic medical centre dedicated to neuroscience. The Neuro is a research and teaching institute of McGill University and forms the basis for the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. Founded in 1934 by the renowned Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro is recognized internationally for integrating research, compassionate patient care and advanced training, all key to advances in science and medicine. Neuro researchers are world leaders in cellular and molecular neuroscience, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders.

Anita Kar | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcgill.ca
http://www.mni.mcgill.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>