Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New understanding of nervous system gives insight into common gut problem in newborn babies


Medical Research Council (MRC) researchers have unlocked the mysteries of the nervous system responsible for proper formation and function of the gut. This new understanding has implications for treating Hirschsprung’s disease, a common disorder in newborns that requires corrective surgery in order for food to pass through the bowel and the colon.

The study shows that two important molecular switches work together to regulate the movement of crucially important cells, that will eventually become ‘enteric neurons.’ During early embryonic development these cells move from the brain to the gut, to create the ‘enteric’ nervous system. This specialised branch of the nervous system works independently of the brain and is responsible for ‘peristalsis’ of the gut – the wave-like contraction of the gut that allows the contents to be propelled through the bowel.

Failure of these migrating cells to populate the entire length of the gut causes Hirschprung’s disease, a common disorder that affects approximately one in every 4500 children. The affected portion does not expand and the contents of the bowel accumulate in the upper colon, causing swelling, abdominal pain and severe constipation, which could have serious consequences if left untreated.

The team, led by Professor Vassilis Pachnis at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, found that some of the key molecules* that are individually important for development of the enteric nervous system, work together to act as master regulators to allow normal colonisation of the gut by the enteric neurons.

The researchers also found that the balance of both these key molecules is critical to correct development and function of the gut.

Professor Pachnis said: “The work we’ve been doing is very basic and doesn’t offer an immediate alternative to surgery, which is used successfully at the moment to alleviate the immediate effects of obstruction. However, frequently, and despite successful surgery Hirschsprung’s patients continue to have associated problems throughout life.

“By modifying defective versions of these molecules, so the enteric neurons can establish themselves appropriately along the full length of the gut, it might be possible to prevent this common problem and remove the need for surgery in future. We’re already looking at how stem-cell technology could help us in this approach.”

| alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>