A recent study done by researchers at Oregon State University gives us insight into why certain cells in the nervous system are prone to death and decay. To do this, they took a look at proteins that are affecting the cells.
Proteins play a very important role in the life of a cell. One of the cell’s main jobs is to make and transport proteins. A lot of these proteins are in charge of doing maintenance for the cell, they are like the workforce for the cell. They are essential to keep the cell alive.
Cells in the nervous system, called neurons, are in charge of communicating between the brain and the muscles. These cells have long arms, called axons, that extend from the brain through the nervous system to the muscles.
The nervous system is made of an accumulation of axons that send messages back and forth to and from the brain. Helper proteins called trophic factors play a big role in keeping the nervous system alive. The research done at OSU focuses on these helper proteins. Animal models have shown that Trophic factors can salvage dying neuronal cells.
The research goes on to show that certain neuron groups resist the degenerating effects of ALS. It looks like trophic factors hold some secrets to what protects these cells from decay. Further understanding of what is different in these specific groups can prove to help find new treatments.