British scientists have successfully created the compound CPTX, a synthetic version of the protein Cerebellin-1, that could repair damage to the brain and the spinal cord, giving hope to people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, or paralysis, for example.
“Damage in the brain or spinal cord often involves loss of neuronal connections in the first instance, which eventually leads to the death of neuronal cells,” says Dr Radu Aricescu, a neuroscientist at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. “Prior to neuronal death, there is a window of opportunity when this process could be reversed in principle. We created a molecule that we believed would help repair or replace neuronal connections in a simple and efficient way.”
Cerebellin-1 reconnects neuronal cells that transmit information to other nerve cells, muscles, or gland cells. Tests on rodents are underway. In the case of a spinal injury, motor function was restored seven or eight weeks after a single injection of CPTX. As for the brain, results were observed after one week. “The work opens the way to many applications in neuronal repair and remodeling. It is only imagination that limits the potential for these tools,” adds Dr. Aricescu.