New key driver of axon regeneration
Back to overview
In adults, injured neurons fail to regenerate after spinal cord injury. When compared to neurons during embryonic development, they somehow lost the ability to regrow. Dr. Frank Bradke and his group tried to overcome this paradigm. They tried to re-initiate extension of the axon, the main shaft of the neuron, by reactivating molecular mechanisms.
In contrast to past efforts, the research group focused their attention on a specific part of the nerve`s skeleton, called actin, and its location at the tip of a potential growth cone.
Purposive deconstruction in order to rebuild
Their experiments showed something surprising: Special factors that destroy the neuroskeleton frame end up stimulating the growth cone movements. The factors are termed AC proteins. As a consequence, a forced increase of AC protein levels in the neurons triggers growth cone dynamics and ends creating a strong regeneration of the damaged axons.
This study is the first to show that manipulating a single family of proteins that regulates actin is enough to promote regeneration. This opens a new and powerful way of promoting regeneration.
This study was published in the journal Neuron and was supported by Wings for Life.