Duke researchers pinpoint protein vital for SCI regeneration: 9 observations


Durham, N.C.-based Duke University researchers discovered a protein essential for spinal cord injury repair, according to Laboratory Equipment.

The researchers analyzed freshwater zebrafish, which have the capability of healing their spinal cords after complete severance.


Science published their findings on Nov. 4, 2016.


Here are nine observations:


1. When a zebrafish suffers from spinal cord injury, it jumpstarts regeneration, forming a literal bridge. Cells project a distance ten times their own length to connect across the vast injury.


2. At eight weeks post-injury, zebrafish possess new nerve tissue, which fills the void caused by the injury. Ultimately, they completely reverse their paralysis with this regeneration process.


3. The researchers looked for genes that were activated by the spinal cord injury in the fish. They discovered seven genes which coded for protein secreted from cells.


4. One protein in particular, the connective tissue growth factor, saw increased levels in the glia, which formed the bridge post-injury.


5. Humans also possess this protein-coding gene, connective tissue growth factor. It is about 90 percent similar in amino acid building blocks to the zebrafish's gene.


6. Researchers injected the human connective tissue growth factor to the injury site in the fish, and found it implemented regeneration.


7. The study revealed the second half of the connective tissue growth factor helps with healing.


8. The researchers noted, however, connective tissue growth factor will not instigate full regeneration in humans, as the healing process is more complex in mammals.


9. Further studies will investigate the healing process in mice as well as look into the other secreted proteins post-SCI.


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