ScienceDaily (Nov. 22, 2010) — Both the rate and direction of axon growth in the spinal cord can be controlled, according to new research by USC College's Samantha Butler and her collaborators.

The study by Butler; lead researcher Keith Phan and graduate students Virginia Hazen and Michele Frendo of USC College; and Zhengping Jia of the University of Toronto, was published online in the November 17 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Butler, assistant professor of biological sciences, found that a series of connections at the cellular level produce a guidance cue that tells an axon how fast and in which direction to grow in an embryonic environment. Butler and her team also discovered that by modulating the activity of enzyme LIM domain kinase 1 (Limk1), the rate of axon growth can be stalled or accelerated.

Future applications of these findings may include enhancing the ability to regenerate neuronal circuits in patients suffering from spinal cord injuries or neurodegenerative diseases.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...1122141047.htm