Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Gene found that helps nerve cells survive by preventing cell suicide

26.09.2002


Finding may lead to new treatments for neurologic disease and nerve injury



Why do some nerve cells survive and regrow after injury while others shrink away and die? A new discovery by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) shows that the expression of a particular gene may be responsible for protecting neurons from death. The results, published in the September 26 issue of Neuron, could lead the way for new treatment strategies for a variety of neurological diseases.

"Turning on the gene named Hsp27 could potentially rescue nerve cells in patients with neurodegenerative conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s disease," says principal investigator Clifford Woolf, MD, PhD, of the Neural Plasticity Research Group in the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care at MGH.


Woolf and his colleagues found that young sensory and motor nerve cells die after injury because the heat shock protein 27 gene (Hsp27) is not turned on in these cells. In adult cells however, the gene is expressed. The resulting protein that is produced protects these mature nerve cells from death following an injury.

"As part of normal development, many more neurons are made than are needed," says Woolf, who also is Richard J. Kitz Professor of Anesthesia Research at Harvard Medical School. "So some must be pruned away by essentially committing cell suicide, a phenomenon known as programmed cell death. It seems that Hsp27 is turned off to allow for this normal developmental process."

Woolf explains that once an individual reaches adulthood, nerve cells in the body are permanent and irreplaceable. "That’s why it’s important to have a repair mechanism for older neurons," he says. The protein made by the Hsp27 gene blocks cell suicide from taking place following injury, rescuing injured cells. For example, cells expressing the Hsp27 protein acquire resistance to excessive heat, chemical stress, and toxins. Hsp27 directly inhibits the cellular proteins that trigger programmed cell death.

In laboratory dishes and in rat models, Woolf and his team showed that, if the Hsp27 gene is delivered to young nerve cells using gene therapy with viral vectors, the cells are able to survive injury just as well as older nerve cells. Equally, if the gene is switched off in adults, those cells will die. "Hopefully, therapy that prevents cell death by delivering genes like Hsp27 will someday find its way into the clinic," says Woolf. "Patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease, for example, suffer a progressive death of their motor neurons leading to paralysis. If Hsp27 were able to prevent the death of the neurons in these patients, it would offer the possibility of new therapy, something we plan to test"

Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mgh.harvard.edu/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich

nachricht New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>