Reconnecting nerves to their target muscles

July 31, 2012
Reconnecting nerves to their target muscles
Credit: Thinkstock

European researchers are working toward restoration of mobility in neuromuscular disease and trauma. Using miniature scaffolds to guide nerve regeneration, they are seeking to ensure proper functional connections between peripheral nerves and their target muscles.

Peripheral nerves are those located outside the (CNS) (the brain and spinal chord). They are like insulated electrical cables whose final connection points must correspond to the signals received by each peripheral nerve from within the CNS.

Thus, send the signal to specific muscles to either contract or relax. The muscles in doing so then move the bones to which they are connected in logical and useful ways.

In the case of tissue damage to the neuromuscular system (NMS) due to disease or trauma, peripheral nerve lesions result in an inability to transmit signals to the muscles.

Corresponding efforts toward have fallen short given the difficulty of organised re-enervation leading to restoration of original function.

In other words, progress has been made in regenerating nervous tissue but it is still difficult to regenerate it in a way that forms functionally relevant . Like an old-fashioned switchboard, if the incoming call (nervous signal) is not connected to the appropriate person (specific ) the message is not transmitted properly.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs), literally nano-scale tubes of carbon, are promising potential tissue scaffolds and may be just what the NMS needs.

initiated the ‘Biocompatability of carbon nanoparticles with tissues of the neuromuscular system’ (NMS-CNT) to build a long-term European consortium working toward the use of carbon nanoparticles in tissue repair of the NMS.

Scientists evaluated a variety of configurations including single-walled CNTs (SWCNTs), multi-walled CNTs (MWCNTs) and ultra-long single-walled CNTs (ULSWCNTs) in particular with respect to solubility.

Ongoing research is directed at enhancing the solubility of ULSWCNTs. These are particularly promising candidates for guided nerve regeneration given their longer length and relatively straight geometry. In addition, investigators are carrying out cytotoxicity tests as well as in vivo testing in animal models.

Completion of the project should provide the scientific foundations for development of CNT-based guided tissue regeneration in the NMS and eventual restoration of mobility in thousands of people with nervous system diseases or traumatic injuries.

Explore further: Nanomedicine opens the way for nerve cell regeneration

Related Stories

Nanomedicine opens the way for nerve cell regeneration

June 6, 2007

The ability to regenerate nerve cells in the body could reduce the effects of trauma and disease in a dramatic way. In two presentations at the NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference, researchers describe the use of nanotechnology ...

The dormant potential of damaged nerve cells

July 13, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Damaged nerve cells in a finger will regrow, but those in the spinal cord do not. Why the difference? Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology working with an international team of researchers ...

New discovery in nerve regrowth

July 12, 2010

Faculty of Medicine scientists have discovered a way to enhance nerve regeneration in the peripheral nervous system. This important discovery could lead to new treatments for nerve damage caused by diabetes or traumatic injuries. ...

Race to nerve regeneration: faster is better

October 3, 2011

A team of researchers led by Clifford Woolf and Chi Ma, at Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School, Boston, has identified a way to accelerate the regeneration of injured peripheral nerves in mice such that ...

Recommended for you

Basic research fuels advanced discovery

August 26, 2016

Clinical trials and translational medicine have certainly given people hope and rapid pathways to cures for some of mankind's most troublesome diseases, but now is not the time to overlook the power of basic research, says ...

New avenue for understanding cause of common diseases

August 25, 2016

A ground-breaking Auckland study could lead to discoveries about many common diseases such as diabetes, cancer and dementia. The new finding could also illuminate the broader role of the enigmatic mitochondria in human development.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.