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Researchers from Sorbonne University Paris, Ruhr-Universitat Bochum, and the Technische Universitat Braunschweig are working on how they can direct neurites in how to grow. Normally, brain damage is not easy to regenerate since neuritis dint knows the direction they need to grow.

CNS signaling pathway activation helps nerves grow

The researchers led by Senior Molecular neurobiochmeisrty Researcher at RUB Professors Rolf Heuman hope that this will allow long term alleviation of neurodegenerative disease effects. Currently, brain function due to neurodegenerative disease or after an injury remains a big challenge in medicine and neuroscience. Usually, central nervous system regeneration is possible to some extent since the regenerating neurite comes into contact with proteins having growth-inhibiting properties. Heumann explained that the regenerating neurite initially doesn’t know the direction it should grow to functionally reach the denervated target tissue.

The Bochum team has previously demonstrated that central signaling pathway activation within neurons, which Ras protein attached to cell membrane triggers, protects cell degeneration and also leads to fiber growth. In the current project, researchers were interested in controlling fiber growth direction. Researchers employed magnetic nanoparticles implanted inside model neurons. Interestingly, a Ras-regulating switch protein or permanently active Ras protein triggered the Ras signaling pathway activation.

Using ferrous nanoparticles to direct growth of neurites

Fabian Rauduz explained that initially, the team demonstrated that it managed to move ferrous nanoparticles within neurons using magnetic tips in a controlled manner. Researchers also succeeded in keeping Ras-regulating switch proteins in cells to nanoparticles and then magnetically transporting them to the cell membrane. The team then managed to implant the functionalized nanoparticles into the neurite and allowing them to accumulate at the tip where the direction of growth is established.  The Ras switch protein binding with nanoparticles was shown using light scattering measurement s and through microscopic actions such as fluorescence correlation spectroscopy.

There is therapeutic potential in the magnetic control of functionalized nanoparticles’ ability in nerve fibers. Heuman said that the study’s long term aim was promoting transplanted dopaminergic neuron’s regenerations through functionalized magnetic nanoparticles in the brain.