X-Message-Number: 18003
From: "Jan Coetzee" <>
Subject: Dogma refuted: Axons can regenerate long-distance
Date: Thu, 22 Nov 2001 23:25:33 -0500

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Dogma refuted: Axons can regenerate long-distance
21 November 2001 16:35 EST 
by Apoorva Mandavilli, BioMedNet News 

Combining two relatively straightforward surgical procedures, German scientists 
have made the remarkable discovery that mature neurons possess the intrinsic 
ability to re-grow their axons over long distances. They will report next month 
that after cut ends of a rat optic nerve are sutured together, severed axons can
bypass molecular barriers, grow all the way to the target area in the brain, 
and form functional connections with the visual cortex. 

"That's really a big deal," said Larry Benowitz, director of neuroscience 
research at Children's Hospital in Boston. "No one has ever got that kind of 
regenerative growth."

Scientists have been studying CNS regeneration for more than 200 years, but 
prevailing notions held that molecular inhibitors, scar-forming astrocytes, and 
a lack of neurotrophins make regeneration over long distances impossible. But 
Solon Thanos and his colleagues at the University of M nster report that up to 
30% of retinal ganglion cells regenerated their axons along the entire visual 

The results show that "in principle, a lot more growth is possible than we 
previously thought," Benowitz told BioMedNet News. "It's a really, really 
dramatic demonstration." 



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