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1 small step for neurons, 1 giant leap for nerve cell repair
Date:10/7/2009

This release is available in French.

The repair of damaged nerve cells is a major problem in medicine today. A new study by researchers at the Montreal NeurologicaI Institute and Hospital (The Neuro) and McGill University, is a significant advance towards a solution for neuronal repair. The study featured on the cover of the October 7 issue of Journal of Neuroscience, is the first to show that nerve cells will grow and make meaningful, functional contacts, or synapses - the specialized junctions through which neurons signal to each other - with an artificial component, in this case, plastic beads coated with a substance that encourages adhesion, and attracts the nerve cells.

"Many therapies, most still in the conceptual stage, are aimed at restoring the connection between the nerve cell and the severed nerve fibres that innervate a target tissue, typically muscle," says Dr. David Colman, Director of The Neuro and principal investigator in the study. "Traditional approaches to therapies would require the re-growth of a severed nerve fibre a distance of up to one meter in order to potentially restore function. The approach we are using however bypasses the need to force nerve cells to artificially grow these long distances, and eliminates the demand for two neurons to make a synapse, both of which are considerable obstacles to neuronal repair in a damaged system."

"We are tackling this problem in an entirely new way, as part of the McGill Program in NeuroEngineering," says Dr. Anna Lisa Lucido, who conducted research for the study as part of her PhD research at The Neuro and is currently a post-doctoral fellow at UCSF. "This program, spearheaded by Dr. Colman, is a multi-disciplinary consortium that brings together the knowledge, expertise and perspectives of 40 scientists from diverse fields to focus on the challenge of neuronal r
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Contact: Anita Kar
anita.kar@mcgill.ca
514-398-3376
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

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