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Protein Pathways Roundup

December 7, 2007

Scientists identify a protein that blocks nerve regeneration.


New insights into cancer and paralysis. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

While humans can regenerate damaged muscles, we are unable to regenerate severely damaged nerve tissue. Now researchers at McGill and the University of Washington may have discovered why. Stem cells are critical to tissue regeneration. But the researchers found that a protein called Netrin-1 accumulates where nerve damage has occured and repels stem cells. Blocking netrin-1 and keeping stem cells near damaged nerves could be the first step toward coaxing the nerves to regrow.

In other news, scientists have found a key pathway in the inflammation process—a process that not only causes diseases like arthritis, asthma and multiple sclerosis, but is also a leading cause of many cancers. The identification of two proteins that kick off inflammation could lead to new medicines and treatments. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.