Researchers in Oxford University’s Department of Human Anatomy have identified a factor involved in the regeneration of neurons in the central nervous system. The discovery and use of this factor could provide the basis for a reparative treatment for both brain and spinal cord injuries.
Unlike lower vertebrates, mammals have lost the ability to repair damage to the brain and spinal cord. Since peripheral nerves are capable of repair, this is thought to be not so much an intrinsic inability of central nervous system (CNS) tissue to repair itself, but rather an environment in the CNS that is hostile to regeneration. This inhibition of neuronal regeneration is a result of a number of factors including axotomy-induced cell death, a gliotic scar that provides a physical barrier to regeneration as well as an environment that is inhibitory to growth. A number of strategies have been employed in the past to overcome this inhibition, including: blocking apoptosis, stem cell therapy, grafting of peripheral nervous system (PNS) cells and delivery of neurotrophic factors. However, the results of these animal studies have been controversial with regard to their claims of significant functional recovery.
Following a great deal of work on the action of Schwann cell conditioned medium (SCCM), which previous research has shown to support the re-growth of neuronal cells, the Oxford inventors have now identified a factor that is responsible for stimulation of neuronal re-growth and have demonstrated its effectiveness for both peripheral and central nervous system neurons. Use of this factor or its analogues may provide the basis for a reparative treatment for brain and spinal cord injury.
Jennifer Johnson | alfa
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At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
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