Here’s where the axon is

Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, US, have blocked the destruction of nerve axons in mice, a step toward helping patients with various neurodegenerative disorders. 

Pictured is a sciatic nerve cross section from a mouse treated with a viral gene therapy that blocks axon destruction. It shows that many axons are preserved (in red) five days after the nerve was cut.

Nerve axons serve as the wiring of the nervous system, sending electrical signals that control movement and sense of touch. 

When axons are damaged, whether by injury or as a side effect of certain drugs, a program is triggered that leads axons to self-destruct. 

This destruction likely plays an important role in multiple neurodegenerative conditions, including peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The study is published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

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