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Regenerating Tissues

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 06:29 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 41.3 
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The ability to regenerate the tissues of the human central nervous system

(CNS) is one of the greatest projects undertaken by biomedical engineers

today.   With this eventual technology, permanent paralysis and blindness

due to CNS injury will be a thing of the past.   Central nervous system

injuries will   be repairable, an idea that was, until recently, just a

fanciful dream, something out of a science fiction novel.  

In the last few years, however, giant strides have been made to make the

idea of CNS regeneration a reality within the grasp of   engineers and

doctors alike.   This technology has advanced to the point where successful

tests are being performed on lower level adult mammals.   If all continues

to go well,   human implementation may soon follow.

The axons of the central nervous system in adult mammals do not regenerate

spontaneously after injury, mainly because of the presence of

oligodendrocytes that inhibit axonal growth.   These glial cells block the

growth of the axons in the central nervous system, preventing any kind of

regeneration within the CNS.

What was discovered, through experimentation, was that lower non-mammalian

vertebrates could regenerate their central nervous system after injury.

Regeneration of   the optic nerve occurs spontaneously in fish.   This

phenomenon has been correlated to the presence of factors that are toxic

to oligodendrocytes.   This substance is closely related to interleukin-2.  

Lower level mammals, on the other hand, are, like humans, unable to

regenerate their CNS.   The same experiment performed on the fish above

yielded completely different results when done on adult mammals.   Severing

of the optic nerve near the eye is followed by a loss of retinal ganglion

cells combined with a failure of axons to regrow into the brain.



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