LONDON Manipulating the integrin gene can dramatically switch adult neurons on to regenerate. In 1 July Journal of Neuroscience, Maureen Condic shows that injured adult neurons engineered to express increased levels of integrin can re-grow to a similar degree as embryonic or postnatal neurons. The finding suggests that engineered adult neurons may be useful in the treatment of various clinical conditions, such as damage from stroke, spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions.

One of the great unsolved mysteries of neuronal growth has been why embryonic or young neurons have the ability to regenerate whereas adult cells do not. Previous studies had suggested that this could be attributed to the poor environment that the adult central nervous system (CNS) provides to support growth and that improving this environment could stimulate adult neuron regeneration. The adult CNS expresses very low levels of growth-promoting matrix molecules and high levels of...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?