Scientists have found the key molecular signal of spinal cord repair

Researchers at King’s College London and Oxford University identified a signal molecule called neuregulin-1. This molecule can start the natural repair function after spinal cord injury. The study is published today in the journal Brain. The results of this study may be developed into a new therapy someday which can enhance the self-repair mechanisms by manipulating neuregulin-1.

Spinal cord injury has a devastating effect on muscle and limb function, but central nervous system has only a kind of limited ability to repair itself. If scientists can understand this self-repair mechanism, they can help people to develop new therapeutic strategies using existing repair tools of spinal cord to facilitate the ability to self-repair of spinal cord injury.

Researchers at King’s College and Oxford University identified one of these tools for the first time — neuregulin-1, which can transmit signals from the surface of nerve fiber damage in the “spontaneous remyelination” in the process. Spontaneous remyelination occurs in spinal cord injury after a few weeks of natural repair process. Spinal cord nerve fibers lose the protective layer of myelin starts the process. Myelin is the key to communication between the brain and the body. However, the nature and insufficient to fully repair spinal cord rehabilitation, may lead to degradation of the surviving nerve fiber function, can affect balance, coordination and ability to act.

The researchers found that mice missing neuromodulation 1 gene self-myelin repair process is completely blocked, the spinal cord nerve fibers still no myelin (If you can’t transmit nerve signals along the spinal cord). Missing neuregulin-1 gene in mice with spinal cord injury repair Results intact protein 1 gene in mice than neuromodulation poor, especially in walking, balance and coordination of movement ability.

Neuregulin -1 spontaneous myelin repair can’t only start, but also as spinal cord nerve cells in the molecular switch can be activated in these cells myelin repair. The researchers believe this is very unusual, because just get myelin repair capacity of Schwann cells usually only repair the peripheral nervous system myelin sheath of nerve fibers, but can’t repair the myelin in the central nervous system.

Psychiatry, psychology and Institute of Neuroscience (IoPPN) neural plasticity and regenerative medicine professor at King’s College Medical Research Institute senior researcher Elizabeth Bradbury believes that all people with spinal cord injury can happen at any time, your life may be at the moment it changes, you may lose all sensation and function below the injury site.

Most current treatments are ineffective, it is an urgent need to repair tissue damage and restoring function after injury new rehabilitation therapy. These new findings improve our understanding of the planning body’s ability to repair molecular mechanisms. Professor Bradbury adds enhanced by this spontaneous reaction, we can significantly improve the function of the spinal cord after injury. Our study of other central nervous system abnormalities caused by demyelination has value, such as multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Katalin Bartus at king of Medical says, “We hope that this research can raise a platform for future research, which is very important for choosing different Neuregulin-1 levels of testing to improve the functional repair level after spinal cord injury.”

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