New Hope For Restoring Injured Nerves

ScienceDaily (Jan. 26, 2009) — University of Utah scientists identified a worm gene that is essential for damaged nerve cells to regenerate, and showed they could speed nerve regeneration by over-activating the gene – a step toward new treatments for nerves injured by trauma or disease.
We discovered a molecular target for a future drug that could vastly improve the ability of a neuron to regenerate after injury," either from trauma or disease, says biology Professor Michael Bastiani, leader of the research team and a member of the Brain Institute at the University of Utah.
Study coauthor and biology Professor Erik Jorgensen – the Brain Institute's scientific director – says: "In the future, we would like to develop drugs that could activate this chain of molecular events in nerve cells and stimulate regeneration of diseased and injured nerve cells. At this point, we can't do that. But this study gives us hope that in the future, we will have a rational approach for stimulating regeneration."
"Eventually, this may be a way to treat spinal cord injuries," adds study coauthor Paola Nix, a biology research associate.
Bastiani says an ability to stimulate nerve regeneration one day also may help treat multiple sclerosis, in which nerves are damaged by loss of their myelin coating.
He says the study used nematode worms, which "have the same molecules performing similar functions in humans. We found a pathway that not only regenerates nerves in the worm but also exists in humans, and we think it serves the same purpose."


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0122141144.htm