One of the problems with nerve injuries is that some nerves don’t regrow after injury. The nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord do not regrow after injury. This is why paralysis is permanent, but you can cut your hand deeply and still recover function.
Science Daily reports on a breakthrough about why this happens that could lead to treatments for neuron damage. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered some of the regeneration steps in peripheral nerves.
They grew mouse neurons called dorsal root ganglion neurons and damaged them to see how they regenerate to study the process. Then they studied the same process in living mice by cutting their sciatic nerve.
Through these experiments, they’ve identified certain genes that need to be turned off and others turned on in order for nerve cells to regenerate. The study proved that the ones that need to be turned off are just as important.
When this happens, the neuron shuts down and tells the body to repair it. The researchers called this returning the neuron to an immature state. While this is not a new idea, this adds evidence to it.
The hope is that through studying this process, new treatments can be found to cure paralysis and other forms of neurological damage.