Scientists are looking at one protein in particular that is key to this accomplishment in the fish, the researchers said.
“This is one of
“Given the limited number of successful therapies available today for repairing lost tissues, we need to look to animals like zebrafish for new clues about how to stimulate regeneration,” said Poss, whose study was published in the journal Science.
When the severed spinal cord of the zebrafish undergoes regeneration, a bridge forms.
Nerve cells follow and within eight weeks new nerve tissue has plugged the gap, allowing the fish to reverse their paralysis completely, the Poss team reported.
To figure out what is going on, scientists searched for all of the genes whose activity abruptly changed after spinal cord injury.
Seven of these were found to code for proteins secreted from cells.
One of these
When the protein was deleted genetically, those fish failed to regenerate.
People and zebrafish share many genes, and human CTGF protein is nearly 90 percent similar
Inserting human CTGF into the injury site in fish helped the regeneration process.
“The fish go from
But CTGF alone is probably not enough for people to regenerate their spinal cords, the team said. The process is more complex in mammals, in part
Future studies will look at mice to determine which of their cells express CTGF, the team said. Researchers also plan to look at other proteins involved in the regeneration process in zebrafish.
© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse
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