Navigation Links
Protein in human hair shows promise for regenerating nerves

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. A protein found in human hair shows promise for promoting the regeneration of nerve tissue and could lead to a new treatment option when nerves are cut or crushed from trauma.

In the current issue of Biomaterials, scientists from Wake Forest University School of Medicine reported that in animal studies the protein keratin was able to speed up nerve regeneration and improve nerve function compared to current treatment options.

We found that the nerve repair happened more quickly and consistently, and that functional recovery was higher, said Mark Van Dyke, Ph.D., senior author and an assistant professor of regenerative medicine. The fact that we were able to accomplish this with gels made from keratin is pretty remarkable.

Current treatments for repairing damaged nerves include microsurgery to sew two ends of the nerve together, using a nerve from another part of the body to replace a damaged section, or placing an empty tube between the cut ends so that nerve fibers can grow through it and back into the muscle.

Grafting a nerve from another part of the body is usually the most effective option, but it creates another injury site and isnt possible in all patients. The tubes, known as nerve guidance conduits, cannot be used in gaps longer than three or four centimeters. In addition, nerve regeneration with this method is not always successful. For example, after about age 17, nerves dont regenerate as well.

Laboratory scientists have tried placing natural materials, such as collagen, into the conduits to promote nerve regeneration. Van Dykes team was the first to use keratin, which is believed to contain molecules that regulate cell behavior.

The scientists collected human hair from a local barber shop and chemically processed it to remove the keratin. They purified the keratin protein and used it to form gels that were then used to fill the nerve guidance conduits. They studied how keratin affects the activity of Schwann cells, which play a vital role in nerve regeneration. These cells produce signals that tell nerve cells to begin regenerating and remodel the blood clot that has formed so that nerve cells can grow across it.

By using keratin to activate these cells, were trying to tap into the natural healing cascade, said Van Dyke. We believe that keratin helps amp up Schwann cell activity and give the nerve regeneration process a head start.

The laboratory studies showed that keratin activated Schwann cells and increased their proliferation and migration. Next, the scientists used a keratin-filled tube to attempt to repair a 4 millimeter nerve gap in mice -- a fairly significant gap considering the size of the animal.

The results from these animals were compared with animals treated with an empty nerve guidance conduit and with animals treated with a nerve graft.

After six weeks, 100 percent of the animals in the keratin and nerve graft groups showed visible nerve regeneration across the gap, compared to only 50 percent who got the empty conduit. The speed of repair was best in the keratin group.

The scientists then tested the function of the regenerated nerve. The speed of nerve impulses was best in the keratin group. The amount of signal that got through the nerve was better in the keratin group than in the empty tube group. The study was recently highlighted in the journal Science.

The results suggest that a conduit filler derived from hair keratins can promote an outcome comparable to a grafted nerve, said Van Dyke.

In the study, the nerve function did not translate into recovery of muscle function, but the scientists suspect they may have tested too early, before the nerve had time to regenerate to the muscle. It is known that muscle function recovery lags behind nerve recovery. Future studies will focus on regeneration across larger gaps and will test whether nerve regeneration results in a return of muscle function.


Contact: Karen Richardson
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

Related medicine news :

1. Protein power: Researchers trigger insulin production in diabetic mice
2. Protein Nasal Spray Revives Sleep-Deprived Monkeys
3. Protein a possible key to allergy and asthma control
4. Jefferson scientists find protein potential drug target for treatment-resistant prostate cancer
5. Receptor protein appears to be key in breakdown of kidney filtration
6. Protein-dependent switch regulates intracellular trafficking in epithelial cells
7. Researchers led by Penn vet uncover the delicate protein balance behind the immune system response
8. Extracellular protein sensitizes ovarian cancer cells to chemotherapy
9. St. Jude Finds Mechanism for Faulty Protein Disposal
10. St. Jude finds mechanism for faulty protein disposal
11. Brain Protein May Be a Clue to Autism
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, Dr. ... his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained in ... to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where he ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... A recent article published June 14 ... The article goes on to state that individuals are now more comfortable seeking to ... operations such as calf and cheek reduction. The Los Angeles area medical group, Beverly ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 ... ... 12th International Conference and Scientific Sessions in Dallas that it will receive two ... Announcement of the grants came as PHA marked its 25th anniversary by recognizing ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Rhinebeck, NY (PRWEB) , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Topical BioMedics, Inc, makers of ... of companies that call for a minimum wage raise to $12 an hour by 2020 ... wage. This will restore the lost value of the minimum wage, assure the wage floor ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Puradigm® & Innovative Solutions today ... cultivation and processing operations at its production facility, and opened its first two ... the manufacturer of a complete system of proactive air and surface purification solutions ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 ... the addition of the " Global Markets for ... This report focuses on ... updated review, including its applications in various applications. The ... which includes three main industries: pharmaceutical and biotechnology, food ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Research and ... Market for Companion Diagnostic Tests" report to their offering. ... for Companion Diagnostics The World Market for ... personalized medicine diagnostics. Market analysis in the report includes the ... Market (In Vitro Diagnostic Kits) by Region (N. America, EU, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  MedSource announced today that ... e-clinical software solution of choice.  This latest decision ... value to their clients by offering a state-of-the-art ... relationship establishes nowEDC as the EDC platform of ... full-service clients.  "nowEDC has long been a preferred ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: