Medical Science

Lessons from the Lamprey on Spinal Cord Regeneration
Jennifer Morgan, Marine Biological Laboratory

Spinal cord injury causes devastating and permanent damage to the nervous system, resulting in the loss of movement and sensation. The permanence of the damage is due to the inability of the human spinal cord to regenerate and repair itself. In stark contrast, the lamprey – a basal vertebrate – undergoes robust functional recovery after a complete spinal cord injury. Within a few months after the injury, lampreys spontaneously recover their full ability to swim and perform other natural behaviors. Supporting this remarkable recovery is the ability of many nerve cells to regrow, or regenerate, and reconnect with their targets in ways that restore function. Interestingly, the lamprey genome was published in 2013, and it was revealed that lampreys possess the same 25,000 genes that are found in higher vertebrates, including humans. So, this begs the question: why are lampreys able to regenerate their spinal cords while humans cannot? Furthermore, what is the molecular recipe for successful regeneration of the spinal cord and other parts of the nervous system? Dr. Morgan and her colleagues are exploring this question using a combination of cellular and molecular approaches, including single cell transcriptomics. The ultimate goal of the project is to identify the fundamental basis underlying the regeneration of neurons using lampreys and to eventually apply this knowledge toward improving spinal cord repair in mammalian experimental models and humans.

For more information, check out:

youtube.com/watch?v=jSvqo-qk35s

brainfacts.org/about-neuroscience/meet-the-researcher/articles/2014/jennifer-morgan-finding-inspiration-in-unexpected-places/

Background Review Article:

Lau, Billy Y.B. and Morgan, Jennifer R. “Fishing” for New Strategies to Improve Recovery”. PN June 2011.

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Medical Science

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  • Prügivedu

    interesting videos, thanks for sharing all this stuff

    by Prügivedu

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