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Microsurgery on the brain of the fruit fly leads to new insights into irreparable nerve injuries
Date:6/3/2008

the fly's external skeleton, which prevents reproducible, physical manipulations of the living brain. Under the direction of VIB researcher Bassem Hassan, and in collaboration with international experts, Derya Ayaz, Maarten Leyssen and their colleagues have now developed a new technique in which the fruit fly's entire brain is cultured, enabling long-term experimentation (i.e., manipulation and observation) on the living fruit fly brain.

Fruit fly brain as model for studying damaged nerve bundles

The researchers have used this new technique explicitly to develop a fruit fly model for the regeneration of axons after injury. With the aid of micro-dissection, the researchers inflicted injuries on the nerve fibers and then studied them for several days. As is the case for humans, the regeneration of damaged nerve bundles in fruit fly brains is as good as non-existent.

In a next step, the researchers are using this new model to study which molecular processes might be able to promote this regeneration. They have already demonstrated that activation of the JNK signaling pathway positively influences the repair of nerve bundles. JNK activation not only stimulates the growth of the severed nerves but the nerves also grow correctly in the direction of their original target region in the brain.

Perspectives for the future

In the future, this new model can be used to identify new molecules that are involved in the repair of damaged nerve bundles. These molecules will then be candidate molecules for further research with humans, and they can possibly form the basis of new treatments for patients with a nerve injury that has been irreparable up to now.


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Contact: Evy Vierstraete
info@vib.be
329-244-6611
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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