School of Medicine researchers have identified a chain reaction that triggers the regrowth of some damaged nerve cell branches, a discovery that one day may help improve treatments for nerve injuries that can cause loss of sensation or paralysis. To study how nerve cells respond to injuries in their branches, researcher Valeria Cavalli grows them in “spots,” like the one pictured.
The most common inherited form of mental retardation and autism, fragile X syndrome, turns some brain cells into chatterboxes, scientists at the School of Medicine report. The extra chatter may make it harder for brain cells to identify and attend to important signals, potentially establishing a parallel at the cellular level to the attention problems seen in autism.
Stem cells that come from a specific part of the developing brain help fuel the growth of brain tumors caused by an inherited condition, researchers, including David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report.
When it comes to communication in the brain, more is usually better. But now scientists, including Maurizio Corbetta, MD, have linked increased communication in a network of brain regions to more severe mental impairment in patients with early-stage multiple sclerosis (MS).
The body’s ability to perform simple tasks like flex muscles or feel heat, cold and pain depends, in large part, on myelin, an insulating layer of fats and proteins that speeds the propagation of nerve cell signals. Now, scientists have identified a gene in mice that controls whether certain cells in the peripheral nervous system can make myelin. Called Gpr126, the gene encodes a cellular receptor that could play a role in diseases affecting peripheral nerves.
Outgrowth of nerve branchesA protein that helps the ends of growing nerve cells push forward is also involved in guidance of the nerve branches, according to a study by researchers at the School of Medicine. By better understanding how nerve branches grow and move, the researchers hope one day to be able to regenerate injured nerves.
Outgrowth of nerve branchesA protein that helps the ends of growing nerve cells push forward is also involved in guidance of the nerve branches, according to a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. They had believed that the protein, myosin II, was only a motor, but the new study shows it appears to help steer the nerve cells, too. By better understanding how nerve branches grow and move, the researchers hope one day to be able to regenerate injured nerves. They reported their findings in a recent issue of Nature Neuroscience.