Can Nerves Be Repaired?
By Marcelino Ortiz C.
For the first time ever, researchers have been able to induce, in rodents, the regeneration of nerve connections that control voluntary movement after a spinal cord injury, reports the University of California-Irvine, USA.
According to research, a team of scientists was able to regenerate nerve fibers in the spinal cord of rodents to which they were divided by reviving a molecular pathway active during development.
This was done by suppressing an enzyme called PTEN (a phosphatase and tensin homolog), and controlling another called mTOR, which regulates cell multiplication.
PTEN activity is moderate during growth, allowing the multiplication of cells, but when this process ends, the PTEN acts as a switch and inhibits mTOR, precluding any capacity to regenerate.
"Thus far, nerve regeneration was impossible in the spinal cord," Oswald told Hostess, Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology and director of the Research Center Reeve-Irvine, at that university.
Paralysis or loss of function after spinal cord injury were taken as incurable, but this discovery opens the way for a potential treatment to induce regeneration of nerve connections.
Scientists are now studying whether treatment by suppression of PTEN in mice that have a spinal cord injury leads to the effective restoration of motor function, beyond the reconstruction of nerve fibers.
The results of this study will be published shortly in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Translated from the Spanish version by: