Robust Optic Nerve Regeneration: A Systems Biology Approach
Recent studies have demonstrated that the adult optic nerve is capable of true axonal regeneration in the mouse. For this regeneration to be applicable to humans, the regenerating axons must travel a considerably longer distance. Our group has developed a mouse model system that will allow us to identify genes that will increase the number of regenerating axons by at least four times and the distance the axons grow by at least three times. If functional recovery is to occur in humans we must increase the number of regenerating axons and their rate of growth.
The first part of our study will be directed at identifying the parts of the genome (DNA) that affect the number and rate of growth of regenerating axons. The second part will be to identify the specific genes involved. Finally, we will use gene modification to test the therapeutic benefit of modifying specific genes. If we are able to increase the amount of regeneration and the rate of regrowth backing the brain, the regeneration we observe in the mouse may be directly transferable to humans.