Reversing a block on nerve growth

[Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Spinal cord injury (SCI) can damage the axons of spinal nerve cells, preventing communication and resulting in paralysis that can affect movement as well as bodily functions such as urination. After SCI, axon regeneration is inhibited, hindering recovery. Research has shown that this inhibition is mediated by compounds called chondroitin sulphate proteoglycans (CSPGs), which block axon growth by interacting with a receptor called protein tyrosine phosphatase sigma (PTPσ). Under the direction of Jerry Silver (Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH), scientists have been working to understand this block in hopes of learning how to circumvent it in order to rescue axon growth and improve functional recovery after SCI. In a paper published recently in Nature, they reported success in removing the CSPG–PTPσ block, restoring locomotor and bladder function in rats that had suffered contusive SCI.

Lab Anim. (NY) 44, 43 (2015).
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