Binhai Zheng, University of California San Diego, Department of Neurosciences, San Diego, USA

A novel signaling molecule regulating astrogliosis after spinal cord injury

Funded in: 2017, 2018, 2019


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Problem: Our understanding of how astrocytes respond to spinal cord injury is limited.

Target: A certain signalling molecule in the Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase pathway is involved in the astrocyte response to injury.

Goal: Targeting astrocyte response to promote recovery and repair after spinal cord injury.

 

Astrocytes are star-shaped cells in the brain and spinal cord that support the function of nerve cells, which transmit neural signals between different parts of the body. Following spinal cord injury, astrocytes respond to injury by proliferation and overgrowth and contribute to scar formation at the injury site. Despite significant progress, our understanding of how astrocytes respond to spinal cord injury is still limited. We found evidence for the involvement of a signalling molecule in the Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase pathway in astrocyte response to injury. The funding from the Wings for Life is allowing us to look deeper into the role of this molecular pathway in this critical cellular response. We are using genetic approaches to rigorously test the consequence of targeting this pathway on astrocyte response after spinal cord injury. We will also examine any effect on regeneration and any interaction with known signalling molecules in astrocyte response. Results will inform on strategies to target astrocyte response to promote recovery and repair after spinal cord injury.