Why Cant We Reverse Nerve Damage
Every year, tens of millions of Americanssuffer from nerve damage, some irreparably so. Science can heal bones, grow new organsand even restore our microbiomes, but why is it so hard to fix our nerves? Hey guys Lissette here for DNews The human body posses a remarkable abilityto heal. Bones refuse, skin wounds mend, and the immune system adapts to infection,after infection. But there's one area of the body that struggles to recover after aninjury: The nervous system. Nerve damage can be some of the most debilitating and permanenttype of injury.
The nervous system is an incredibly complexnetwork used to send electrical information throughout your body. It can basically bedivided into two sections. With the brain and spinal cord making up the central nervoussystem or CNSâ€¦. and the nerves made up of fibers of sensory and motor neurons comprisingthe peripheral nervous system. Each cellthe nervous system from the tipof your finger up your arm, up your spinal column, into your brain, is very specialized.And each has a unique function on the pathway, like a circuit. If one these gets cut or injured,it's hard for an exact replacement cell to be putin the right spot. Think aboutwhen you get a cut on your skin. If the cut
goes deep enough, exact replicas of cellswon't cover the wound, instead fibrous tissues form. which we call scars. And scars arepart of the problemregrowing nerves, they often getthe way especiallythe caseof spinal cord injuries. As part of the CNS, spinal cord injuries are notoriously difficultto heal; partially because of the way nerve cellsthe CNS are made. According to the book, â€œResults and Problemsin Cell Differentiationâ€�, the CNS also has certain proteins that weirdly, inhibit cellregeneration. While this might sound like a bad idea, it's hugely beneficial overallto the formation of the CNS. These cells need
to grow exactly where they are supposed to,just one out of place could be bad. Like. think of an electrical circuit, each unithas to bea specific orderspecific place to work. If one is out of place, theintegrity of the CNS is compromised. Neuronsthe CNS also lack certain cleaningcells. Nerve cells are made up of many parts, but they send signals through threads coveredin a protective sheet of myelin. These threads are called axons. Axons are the long partof the cell that reaches out to the cell next to it to send information down the line.Like arms handing the bucket down the linea bucket brigade. So these are obviouslysuper important and need protecting. That's
where the Schwann cells come in. which areonly foundthe Peripheral nervous system. Schwann cells, which aren't neurons butGLEEL cells, produce the myelin that help protect the axons. But, a study publishedin The Journal of Cell Biology found they also clean up damaged nerves making wayfor the healing process to take place and new nerves to be formed. But the problem is.these Schwann cells are missing from the CNS. What they have instead are myelin producingcells called oligodenocytes. But these cells don't clean up damaged nerve cells at all.Which is part of the problem. So unfortunately, according to RichardG. Fessler professor at Rush University Medical
Center quot;There are currently no therapies whichsuccessfully reverse the damagequot; from injuries to the spinal cord. But research is currentlyunderway to examine the potential success of stem cell treatment, where stem cells areinjected directly at the injury site. Still, it will take a few years to see the resultsof such trials. But there are times your body can regeneratenerves. The peripheral nervous system doesn't have the same blocking proteins that the CNShas, and Schwann cells help heal the damage. So it's able to regrow nerves, albeit slowly.For instance, if you cut a nerve into your shoulder, it could take a year to regrow.By that time.the musclesyour arms could