A New Method to Enhance Nerve Growth
BACKGROUND: Stroke and CNS injuries together cost Americans an estimated $75 billion a year in medical and rehabilitation expenses and lost productivity. Currently, there are no effective, clinically approved methods that promote nerve regeneration and subsequent restoration of CNS function. New research from the University of California has identified a potential therapeutic target for modulating neuron outgrowth.
An antigen, present on most cells but long thought to be absent from neuronal cells, has been detected on nerve cells during embryonic brain development. This observation raised the question as to what role this antigen might play in neuronal guidance and axon growth.
DESCRIPTION: UC researchers have studied neuronal outgrowth and neurorepair in the presence of the recombinant form of this neuronal antigen, as well as in transgenic mice genetically engineered to express the antigen on their neurons. They found that cultured neurons did not extend axons in the presence of the recombinant antigen, or towards a target tissue when that tissue expressed the same antigen. This inhibition of axon outgrowth was overcome in the presence of antibodies directed against the antigen. In vivo, mice engineered to express the antigen on neurons displayed greatly diminshed compensatory sprouting responses following neuronal injury. Thus, this neuronal antigen can inhibit neurorepair responses in the injured CNS; blocking this antigen may overcome the inhibition of neurorepair. Nobably, many CNS pathological conditions (e.g. injury, stroke, epilepsy) lead to local increases in the antigen on neurons and glia. Treatments that limit the neuroinhibitory effects of this antigen may provide a new class of agents to mitigate injuries to the CNS as well as neuropathological disorders.
* The development of new therapeutic methods to enhance nerve re-growth and regeneration following injuries.
* Alternatively, the development of new methods to inhibit nerve growth in situations, such as neuronal malignancies, where this would be beneficial.
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