UCSD Nerve Damage Research Shows Promise

Biologists Tracking Genes That Help In Regeneration Of Axons

Biologists at UC San Diego believe their research into the regeneration of damaged nerve cells is showing promise.

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"This is for battlefield injuries, severe spinal cord trauma [and] even strokes," said Andrew Chisholm, one of the biologists working on the project.

Researchers said they have been able to track the genes that aid in the regeneration of a nerve cell called an axon. They have also been able to isolate the genes that hinder that regeneration.

For the research, they are using a microscopic worm which has similar biological properties to humans.

"Their system is far more simple – like a Model T to a Concorde jet – but the biological similarities are quite remarkable," said Chisholm.

The brain transmits pulses through nerve endings called axons. Researchers were able to cut one of the axons on the worm. As the axon regenerated, they tracked the roughly 650 genes that helped and hindered regeneration.

"What we hope to do now is generate the funding so that we can move the research from worms to mice, and then ultimately to humans to see if damaged nerves will regenerate," said Chisholm.

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