Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Zebrafish reveal promising process for healing spinal cord injury

Date:
July 6, 2012
Source:
Genetics Society of America
Summary:
Scientists are studying the mechanisms of spinal cord repair in zebrafish, which unlike humans and other mammals can regenerate their spinal cord following injury. Their findings suggest a family of molecules called fibroblast growth factors could be a therapeutic target for encouraging nerve regeneration.

Yona Goldshmit, Ph.D., is a former physical therapist who worked in rehabilitation centers with spinal cord injury patients for many years before deciding to switch her focus to the underlying science.

Related Articles


"After a few years in the clinic, I realized that we don't really know what's going on," she said.

Now a scientist working with Peter Currie, Ph.D., at Monash University in Australia, Dr. Goldshmit is studying the mechanisms of spinal cord repair in zebrafish, which, unlike humans and other mammals, can regenerate their spinal cord following injury. On June 23 at the 2012 International Zebrafish Development and Genetics Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, she described a protein that may be a key difference between regeneration in fish and mammals.

One of the major barriers to spinal regeneration in mammals is a natural protective mechanism, which incongruously results in an unfortunate side effect. After a spinal injury, nervous system cells called glia are activated and flood the area to seal the wound to protect the brain and spinal cord. In doing so, however, the glia create scar tissue that acts as a physical and chemical barrier, which prevents new nerves from growing through the injury site.

One striking difference between the glial cells in mammals and fish is the resulting shape: mammalian glia take on highly branched, star-like arrangements that appear to intertwine into dense tissue. Fish glia cells, by contrast, adopt a simple elongated shape -- called bipolar morphology -- that bridges the injury site and appears to help new nerve cells grow through the damaged area to heal the spinal cord.

"Zebrafish don't have so much inflammation and the injury is not so severe as in mammals, so we can actually see the pro-regenerative effects that can happen," Dr. Goldshmit explained.

Studies in mice have found that mammalian glia can take up the same elongated shape, but in response to the environment around the injury they instead mature into scar tissue that does not allow nerve regrowth.

Dr. Goldshmit and her colleagues have focused on a family of molecules called fibroblast growth factors (Fgf), which have shown some evidence of improving recovery in mice and humans with spinal cord damage. The Monash University group found that Fgf activity around the damage site promotes the bipolar glial shape and encourages nerve regeneration in zebrafish.

Preliminary results in mice show that Fgf injections near a spinal injury increase both the number of glia cells at the site and the elongated morphology. Their evidence suggests that Fgfs may work to create an environment more supportive of regeneration in mammals as well and could be a valuable therapeutic target.

Spinal injury patients usually have few options, Dr. Goldshmit emphasized, and development of new, biologically-based approaches will be critical.

"This is a nice example of how we can use the zebrafish model," she said. "When we learn from the zebrafish what to look at, we can find things that give us hope for finding therapeutic approaches for spinal cord injury in humans."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Genetics Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Genetics Society of America. "Zebrafish reveal promising process for healing spinal cord injury." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120706184353.htm>.
Genetics Society of America. (2012, July 6). Zebrafish reveal promising process for healing spinal cord injury. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120706184353.htm
Genetics Society of America. "Zebrafish reveal promising process for healing spinal cord injury." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120706184353.htm (accessed December 17, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

UN: Up to One Million Facing Hunger in Ebola-Hit Countries

AFP (Dec. 17, 2014) Border closures, quarantines and crop losses in West African nations battling the Ebola virus could lead to as many as one million people going hungry, UN food agencies said on Wednesday. Duration: 00:52 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

Flu Outbreak Closing Schools in Ohio

AP (Dec. 17, 2014) A wave of flu illnesses has forced some Ohio schools to shut down over the past week. State officials confirmed one pediatric flu-related death, a 15-year-old girl in southern Ohio. (Dec. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feeling Young Might Mean A Longer Life Span

Feeling Young Might Mean A Longer Life Span

Newsy (Dec. 16, 2014) A study published in JAMA shows that people who feel younger than their chronological age might actually live longer than those who feel old. 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