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Knockdown of Retinoblastoma Enhances Nerve Regeneration in Multiple Sclerosis & Other Diseases

Knockdown of Retinoblastoma Enhances Nerve Regeneration in Multiple Sclerosis & Other Diseases

Retinoblastoma and multiple sclerosisNerve cells are notoriously difficult to regenerate, but according to a recent article in Science Daily, a research group from University of Galgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) has discovered a new way to turn on neural cell growth, which would be beneficial for treating nerve damage commonly found in diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). “We made the surprising discovery that a protein called retinoblastoma (Rb) is present in adult neurons,” said Dr. Doug Zochodne about his team’s research published in Nature Communications. “This protein appears to normally act as a brake – preventing nerve growth. What we have shown is that by inactivating Rb, we can release the brake and coax nerves to grow much faster.”

According to Dr. Zochodne, Rb can be dysfunctional in cancer cells, leading to aberrant cell growth. “So if cancer is able to release this brake and increase cell growth, we thought we’d try to mimic this same action in nerve cells and encourage growth where we want it,” he said in a news release.

To investigate this idea, the research team, which included lead authors Dr. Kimberly J. Christie and Dr. Anand Krishnan, deleted Rb in dorsal root ganglion cells isolated from rats with or without a severed sciatic nerve. The cells showed enhanced neurite outgrowth and branching. When the researchers deleted Rb to the injury site in the rats, they observed the same features of increased axonal outgrowth. No negative results in terms of run-away proliferation and tumor formation were identified, giving the team optimism about future translation to the clinic.

Dr. Zochodne’s laboratory is unique in the field of peripheral nervous system research. No other groups are investigating Rb-knockdown as a means to treat peripheral nerve damage. Peripheral nerves are important to movement and sensation, and when they are damaged, debilitating pain, tingling, numbness, and loss of coordination can result. The implications of Dr. Zochodne’s research might be future therapies to treat peripheral nerve disorders, which will be fueled by work conducted in the Regeneration Unit in Neurobiology at the HBI, which opened in 2010. “The RUN facility has been critical for this research,” said Dr. Zochodne. “It provides the resources and cutting-edge equipment that we need all in one facility. RUN has allowed us to take this idea from nerve cells, to animal models and eventually will help us investigate whether it could be a feasible treatment in humans. It’s an incredible asset.”

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One comment

  1. Samantha says:

    I don’t think this is a solution. I have an inactivated RB gene because I have had bilateral retinoblastoma. I lack a large mutation, but one larger enough to inactive the tumor suppressor gene.

    I also had my left eye enucleated, radiation damage orb my temporal lobes and a scared optic nerve with calcification.

    I have so many health issues because of this. There are very little studies on this gene as to how inactivation affects people other than making us 4x hirer to get soft tissue cancers.

    All of my diagnosis since about age 26 have been complete hell as no one has answers. I’m my own advocate.

    The kicker, my neurologist doesn’t want to rule MS. Again my history weighs in here and at this time I am deal with so much pain and discomfort I’m about to beg for another panel to be drawn.

    So if that was the case then how could it help. Maybe my body is doing that and that’s why it’s so hard to diagnose me with MS. My cells never stop.

    So do more studies in those who have RB1 mutation before you go inactivating it.

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