Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gene Found That Helps Nerve Cells Survive By Preventing Cell Suicide

Date:
September 26, 2002
Source:
Massachusetts General Hospital
Summary:
Why do some nerve cells survive and regrow after injury while others shrink away and die? A new discovery by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) shows that the expression of a particular gene may be responsible for protecting neurons from death. The results, published in the September 26 issue of Neuron, could lead the way for new treatment strategies for a variety of neurological diseases.

BOSTON - September 25, 2002 - Why do some nerve cells survive and regrow after injury while others shrink away and die? A new discovery by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) shows that the expression of a particular gene may be responsible for protecting neurons from death. The results, published in the September 26 issue of Neuron, could lead the way for new treatment strategies for a variety of neurological diseases.

Related Articles


"Turning on the gene named Hsp27 could potentially rescue nerve cells in patients with neurodegenerative conditions such as Lou Gehrig's disease," says principal investigator Clifford Woolf, MD, PhD, of the Neural Plasticity Research Group in the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care at MGH.

Woolf and his colleagues found that young sensory and motor nerve cells die after injury because the heat shock protein 27 gene (Hsp27) is not turned on in these cells. In adult cells however, the gene is expressed. The resulting protein that is produced protects these mature nerve cells from death following an injury.

"As part of normal development, many more neurons are made than are needed," says Woolf, who also is Richard J. Kitz Professor of Anesthesia Research at Harvard Medical School. "So some must be pruned away by essentially committing cell suicide, a phenomenon known as programmed cell death. It seems that Hsp27 is turned off to allow for this normal developmental process."

Woolf explains that once an individual reaches adulthood, nerve cells in the body are permanent and irreplaceable. "That's why it's important to have a repair mechanism for older neurons," he says. The protein made by the Hsp27 gene blocks cell suicide from taking place following injury, rescuing injured cells. For example, cells expressing the Hsp27 protein acquire resistance to excessive heat, chemical stress, and toxins. Hsp27 directly inhibits the cellular proteins that trigger programmed cell death.

In laboratory dishes and in rat models, Woolf and his team showed that, if the Hsp27 gene is delivered to young nerve cells using gene therapy with viral vectors, the cells are able to survive injury just as well as older nerve cells. Equally, if the gene is switched off in adults, those cells will die. "Hopefully, therapy that prevents cell death by delivering genes like Hsp27 will someday find its way into the clinic," says Woolf. "Patients with Lou Gehrig's disease, for example, suffer a progressive death of their motor neurons leading to paralysis. If Hsp27 were able to prevent the death of the neurons in these patients, it would offer the possibility of new therapy, something we plan to test"

The other members of the MGH research team are Susanna Benn, Ph.D, first author, Joachim Scholz, MD, and Richard Mannion, MD, PhD - all of the MGH Neural Plasticity Research Group - and Joanna Bakowska, DVM, PhD, of the Molecular Neurogenetics Unit at MGH. The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Massachusetts General Hospital, established in 1811, is the original and largest teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. The MGH conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the United States, with an annual research budget of more than $300 million and major research centers in AIDS, cardiovascular research, cancer, cutaneous biology, transplantation biology and photomedicine.

In 1994, the MGH joined with Brigham and Women's Hospital to form Partners HealthCare System, an integrated health care delivery system comprising the two academic medical centers, specialty and community hospitals, a network of physician groups and nonacute and home health services.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts General Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts General Hospital. "Gene Found That Helps Nerve Cells Survive By Preventing Cell Suicide." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020926065340.htm>.
Massachusetts General Hospital. (2002, September 26). Gene Found That Helps Nerve Cells Survive By Preventing Cell Suicide. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020926065340.htm
Massachusetts General Hospital. "Gene Found That Helps Nerve Cells Survive By Preventing Cell Suicide." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/09/020926065340.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

Ebola Leaves Orphans Alone in Sierra Leone

AFP (Nov. 27, 2014) — The Ebola epidemic sweeping Sierra Leone is having a profound effect on the country's children, many of whom have been left without any family members to support them. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Trial

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — A recent test of a prototype Ebola vaccine generated an immune response to the disease in subjects. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins