Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers regenerate axons necessary for voluntary movement

08.04.2009
For the first time, researchers have clearly shown regeneration of a critical type of nerve fiber that travels between the brain and the spinal cord and which is required for voluntary movement.

The regeneration was accomplished in a brain injury site in rats by scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and is described in a study to be published in the April 6th early on-line edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"This finding establishes a method for regenerating a system of nerve fibers called corticospinal motor axons. Restoring these axons is an essential step in one day enabling patients to regain voluntary movement after spinal cord injury," said Mark Tuszynski, MD, PhD, professor of neurosciences, director of the Center for Neural Repair at UC San Diego and neurologist at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Health System.

The corticospinal tract is a massive collection of nerve fibers called axons – long, slender projections of neurons that travel between the cerebral cortex of the brain and the spinal cord, carrying signals for movement from the brain to the body. Voluntary movement occurs through the activation of the upper motor neuron that resides in the frontal lobe of the brain and extends its axon down the spinal cord to the lower motor neuron. The lower motor neuron, in turn, sends its axon out to the muscle cells. In spinal cord injuries, the axons that run along the corticospinal tract are severed so that the lower motor neurons, below the site of injury, are disconnected from the brain.

"Previous spinal cord injury studies have shown regeneration of other nerve fiber systems that contribute to movement, but have not convincingly shown regeneration of the corticospinal system," said Tuszynski, theorizing this was due to a limited intrinsic ability of corticospinal neurons to turn on genes that allow regeneration after injury. He added that, without regeneration of corticospinal axons, it is questionable whether functional recovery would be attainable in humans.

The UC San Diego team achieved corticospinal regeneration by genetically engineering the injured neurons to over-express receptors for a type of nervous system growth factor called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). The growth factor was delivered to a brain lesion site in injured rats. There, the axons – because they now expressed trkB, the receptor for BDNF– were able to respond to the growth factor and regenerate into the injury site. In the absence of overexpression of trkB, no regeneration occurred.

Although functional recovery in the animals was not assessed, the new study shows for the first time that regeneration of the corticospinal system – which normally does not respond to treatment – can be achieved in a brain lesion site.

"The next step will be to try this in a spinal cord injury site, once we get the injured neurons to send the growth factor receptor all the way down the axon and into the spinal cord," said Tuszynski, adding that the UC San Diego research team is now working on this. "We will then assess whether regeneration of corticospinal nerve fibers will lead to functional recovery and restored movement in animal models."

This work builds on another study from Tuszynski's laboratory, published in the February 8, 2009 issue of Nature Medicine, which reported that BDNF also exhibits potential as a therapy for reducing brain cell loss in Alzheimer's disease.

The lead author of the study was Edmund R. Hollis II, PhD. Additional contributors to the article included Pouya Jamshidi, Karin Low and Armin Blesch of the UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences. Their work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Administration, the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation and the Bernard and Anne Spitzer Charitable Trust.

Debra Kain | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule
12.12.2018 | UT Southwestern Medical Center

nachricht Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another
12.12.2018 | Technische Universität München

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: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New discoveries predict ability to forecast dementia from single molecule

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

CCNY-Yale researchers make shape shifting cell breakthrough

12.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Pain: Perception and motor impulses arise in the brain independently of one another

12.12.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>