Navigation Links
Getting on your nerves: $1.4 million NIH grant to study the regeneration of nerves
Date:11/9/2011

Injuries to the nervous system affect large numbers of people globally. Such injuries can result in loss of feeling or movement. With a new $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, Deanna Thompson, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will investigate a promising new method to heal traumatic nerve damage, using electrical stimulation to prime and pump neuronal growth.

The grant, titled "Directed Formation of Enhanced 3-dimensional oriented Schwann Cellular Arrays for the Repair of Large-Gap Peripheral Nerve Injuries," will span a four-year period.

The research looks specifically at healing the peripheral nervous system, which is the system of nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord that extends throughout the rest of our body. The system has a greater ability to repair itself compared to the central nervous system housed in the brain and spinal cord, but patients with severe injuries to the peripheral nervous system rarely regain full function.

Thompson and her colleagues will further pursue some promising discoveries that they have already made on how nerve repair can be stimulated and directed to repair large-gap injuries that cannot spontaneously regenerate.

By using small electrical pulses, similar to the electrical stimulation created naturally in the body during development, Thompson has found that she can orient and direct helper cells called Schwann cells into the site of an injury. In addition, she has found that the pulses also stimulate re-growing nerves to extend faster, potentially increasing the rate of repair.

Thompson wants to see the effective tools used for bone and wound healing one day applied to restore nerve function following trauma.

"Doctors currently use electrical stimulation technologies to heal a variety of injuries to bone or muscle as well as to manage pain, heal diabetic wounds, and deep brain stimulation," Thompson said. "These stimulators have not yet been widely applied to treat nerve injuries. Using this funding, we hope to explore the idea of using electrical stimulation to both fuel and provide a directional cue for nerve repair by guiding and enhancing these helper cells, which are a known rate-limiting factor in peripheral nerve injury."

Nerves within the human body are similar to the reams of wire that run through our homes and offices. They transmit signals. They are insulated to protect and efficiently direct these signals. And when they are severed, the connection is lost and communication is immediately halted at both ends. But, unlike an electrical wire, the dynamic nervous system can work to repair itself.

When a nerve in the peripheral nervous system is severed, the growing portion of the regenerating nerve is called the axon and the axon needs to navigate through the injury site and reconnect to its target. To aid this re-growth, Schwann cells sprout from both broken ends of the severed nerve. Like microscopic electricians, the Schwann cells begin to stretch their way across the gap to mend the connection. As they go, they emit important growth factors that invigorate cell growth. These growth factors help call in and direct the new nerve cells to the injury. It is this repopulation of the injury with new cells that is often the log jam to complete reconnection of broken nerves, particularly in cases where the gap in a severed nerve is large, said Thompson.

Schwann cells can be so exceptional at directing the new cells that they rush to send out growth factors and too few of them make it all the way to the injury site or gap. In these cases, the axons do not receive the proper support and never make it to their final destination. The reconnection is never made and function is not restored.

By stimulating the growth of both the axons and the Schwann cells, Thompson hopes to prevent these neuronal roadblocks by directing the Schwann cells and repopulating the injury site in addition to stimulating faster axon re-growth. The new grant will give her the opportunity to further investigate the mechanisms she has uncovered that align the Schwann cells and increase the neuron growth.

"If we are able to direct neuron and Schwann cells, it is possible that other types of nerve cells such as those found in the spinal cord or brain might also be responsive to this," Thompson said of the potential future impact of the work.


'/>"/>

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. To the Brain, Seeing a Caress Is as Good as Getting One
2. Breast tenderness in women getting combo hormone therapy associated with increase in breast density
3. Foreign-Born U.S. Women Getting Mammograms
4. College Students Not Getting Enough Zs
5. More U.S. Tweens Getting Recommended Vaccines
6. Americans Getting Too Many Calories From Sugary Drinks: CDC
7. Research Shows How Some Folks Resist Getting Sick With the Flu
8. Cancer Drug Shortages Getting Worse, FDA Says
9. Getting Along With Coworkers May Add Years to Your Life
10. Even privately insured have hard time getting psychiatric care in Massachusetts: Harvard study
11. Bladder Cancer Patients Not Getting Recommended Care: Study
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 2017 , ... The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Somerset Hills is proud ... and unique items from across the nation, this holiday-themed event will raise funds and ... the VNA. The boutique will be open Saturday, November 4 (10:00 a.m. – ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer at The House ... most popular and least understood books in the Holy Scriptures, Revelation. The Book of ... baffled scholars for centuries. Many have tossed it off as mere rubbish, but Yisrayl ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... ... Journey: From the Mountains to the Mission Field”: the story of a missionary couple ... From the Mountains to the Mission Field” is the creation of published author, Carole ... and currently teaches a class of ladies at her church, which she has taught ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... sleep apnea using cutting-edge Oventus O2Vent technology. As many as 18 ... characterized by frequent cessation in breathing. Oral appliances can offer significant relief to ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... IsoComforter, Inc. ( ... today the introduction of an innovative new design of the shoulder pad. The ... get maximum comfort while controlling your pain while using cold therapy. By utilizing ice ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/10/2017)... 10, 2017   West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. ... injectable drug administration, today shared the results of a ... improving the intradermal administration of polio vaccines. The study ... in May 2017 by Dr. Ondrej Mach , ... Health Organization (WHO), and recently published in the journal ...
(Date:10/4/2017)... Mass. , Oct. 4, 2017  According to the Centers for ... the end of October . PhysicianOne Urgent Care is helping communities across ... Westchester, NY , by offering no-cost* flu shots through the ... as mandated by certain health insurance regulations. ... The best time to get a flu shot is by the ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... 2017  AllianceRx Walgreens Prime, the combined central specialty ... pharmacy benefit manager Prime Therapeutics LLC (Prime), today officially ... the unveiling of new signage at its headquarters in ... at a few other company-owned facilities across the country. ... some of whom will begin to see the AllianceRx ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: