Guiding cells to natural target region key to functional recovery.
In a new study in mice, a team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and Harvard University have uncovered a crucial component for restoring functional activity after spinal cord injury. The neuroscientists have shown that re-growing specific neurons back to their natural target regions led to recovery, while random regrowth was not effective.
In a 2018 study published in Nature, the team identified a treatment approach that triggers axons — the tiny fibers that link nerve cells and enable them to communicate — to regrow after spinal cord injury in rodents. But even as that approach successfully led to the regeneration of axons across severe spinal cord lesions, achieving functional recovery remained a significant challenge.