Scientists Find Ways to Make Brain Cells Heal Themself

If only all of our brain cells could be this cool

Scientists have found a way to get damaged nerve cells in the brains of mice to repair themselves, a finding that may lead to new treatments for spinal cord and brain injuries.

Scientists Find Ways to Make Brain Cells Heal Themself

By turning off proteins that keep nerve cell growth in check, the researchers were able to stimulate regrowth in mice with damaged optic nerves, they reported on Thursday.

“This is the first time it has been possible to see such significant regeneration by manipulating single molecules,” Zhigang He of Children’s Hospital Boston said.

A separate team found that blocking a protein that discourages cell repairs allowed nerve cells in lab dishes to regenerate. Taken together, the findings offer leads on ways to coax damaged nerves in the brain and spinal cord to fix themselves.

He’s team focused on a gene network called the mTOR pathway, which is active when young nerve cells are first growing but becomes less so once they mature.

Nerve injury appears to shut down this network completely. And two proteins – PTEN and TSC1 – appear to be responsible for silencing this pathway, the researchers discovered.
Via The Times