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Nerve Repair

Nerve Repair

 

While nerve repair in fish and rodents is an efficient process, human nerve regeneration after an injury or insult is very poor. Understanding the molecular signalling during effective nerve regeneration will hopefully give us an insight into why it fails in humans and thus in the long term develop therapies to augment human nerve regeneration.

 

A substantial amount of the regenerative capacity of rodent nerves is due to the presence of a cell type, termed repair Schwann cells. Myelinating and non-myelinating Schwann cells found in intact nerves are reprogrammed after nerve injury into repair Schwann cells, specialized for maintaining survival of injured neurons and supporting axonal regeneration. This cellular transformation is regulated by Schwann cell-intrinsic signals, such as the transcription factor c-Jun, however few other candidates have been identified. It is, currently, unknown how Schwann cell reprogramming is initiated, but unidentified extrinsic signals from injured axons are likely candidates.

 

We are currently exploring the roles of a number of genes and non-coding RNAs in repair Schwann cells as well investigating potential signalling between Schwann cells and axons during injury. We are using live imaging tecniques in neuron-Schwann cell co-cultures as well as in a Zebrafish model of nerve injury and repair.