Zhigang He, Children's Hospital Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA

Novels “switch” to turn on neuroregeneration

Funded in: 2009, 2010, 2011

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The mTOR pathway is very active when young nerve cells are first growing but becomes less active once nerve cells mature. Nerve injury appears to shut down this network completely. And two proteins, PTEN and TSC1 appear to be responsible for silencing this pathway.

By getting rid of those proteins, axons can regenerate very dramatically. This suggests that blocking the two proteins (PTEN and TSC1) might reawaken the nerve cell's natural ability to grow. The team is now looking for drugs that can block these proteins.