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Author Topic: Can damaged nerves regenerate?  (Read 3519 times)

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Can damaged nerves regenerate?
« on: 26/06/2007 22:28:24 »
As far as I know, people who badly damage their neck or back can recover almost fully unless they also damage the spinal cord. When I broke my cheekbone I also damaged a nerve which means I have almost no feeling in my top gum on 1 side.

Bone & skin mend themselves. So why not nerves? Or can they under certain circumstances?


 

another_someone

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Can damaged nerves regenerate?
« Reply #1 on: 26/06/2007 23:47:41 »
My understanding is that the problem with nerves is the very long axons - when you break these axons, which are just a part of a single cell, a neuron, then the new axon has problems finding its target.  Skin and bone are just lots of small local cells that are relatively unstructured, and don't need to locate far distant target locations.

I believe there has been some work done on small breaks in the axons being rejoined, if done very soon after the break, and assuming the break is only small, by using local electric fields to stimulate the the two halves of the break to find each other (before either part has had time to atrophy).
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Can damaged nerves regenerate?
« Reply #2 on: 27/06/2007 00:00:20 »
Thanks, George.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Can damaged nerves regenerate?
« Reply #3 on: 27/06/2007 00:18:59 »
You Know Doc I think I saw a special on using stem cells to help with spinal cord injuries.. It was while Christopher reeves was still living, as a matter of fact I thought they were having some small successes in this area, but I cannot remember what the show was called , but do recall some quadriplegics regaining small bits of movements after many weeks with these treatments and there was mention of the two sections rejoining each other through regeneration.. I will see if I can find out more!
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Can damaged nerves regenerate?
« Reply #4 on: 27/06/2007 00:47:49 »
Actually, Karen, that rings a bell.
 

another_someone

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Can damaged nerves regenerate?
« Reply #5 on: 27/06/2007 01:51:31 »
I do remember Christopher Read being a strong proponent of stem cell research for nerve regeneration; but as far as I am aware nothing really came of it.

The problem is that contrary to what we used to think, neurons are capable of regrowing on their own account, so it is not clear that stem cells would alter this (although maybe they might make it more efficient).  The problem is that while you can grow the neuron, how do you tell it what to connect to - and that is a very complex issue, where you have to find ways to tease the axon towards its intended target, which may be a great distance away (possibly a single nerve cell having to stretch its axon from the top right to the bottom of the spinal column, and then join up with the nerves going to one's toes - that is a long path that must be laid for it).
 

Offline Karen W.

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Can damaged nerves regenerate?
« Reply #6 on: 27/06/2007 08:27:42 »
Gosh I wish I could remember which show it was on.. I am pretty positive it was a PBS special.. I thought it was France where they were testing it on patients but it was just to long ago for me to remember! It was at the very least very interesting and quite promising as I recall!

Thanks George that is interesting to.. I have always been interested in stem cell research.. It amazes me what can be done and how they have volved with the studies there.
« Last Edit: 27/06/2007 08:29:33 by Karen W. »
 

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Can damaged nerves regenerate?
« Reply #6 on: 27/06/2007 08:27:42 »

 

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