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Sunday, 12 February 2012

Gene therapy boosts cell repair in brain disorders

Researchers have found a way to help the brain replace damaged nerve cells or neurons, a study reveals.

Myelin forms a protective sheath around the axons or fibres of our neurons so that they can send signals quickly and efficiently.

But myelin and the specialized cells called oligodendrocytes that make it, become damaged in disorders like multiple sclerosis (MS), leaving neurons without their myelin sheaths, the Journal of Neuroscience reported.
Consequently, the affected neurons can no longer communicate correctly and are prone to damage. Researchers from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) now believe they have found a way to help the brain replace damaged oligodendrocytes and myelin, said a university statement.

"We`ve developed a gene therapy to stimulate production of new oligodendrocytes from stem and progenitor cells -- both of which can become more specialized cell types -- that are resident in the adult central nervous system," said Benjamin Deverman, from Caltech, who led the study.

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