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Scientists regenerate optic nerve in mice

BOSTON, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Scientists in Boston have been able to regenerate a damaged optic nerve, from the eye to the brain, in laboratory mice.

The achievement holds great promise for victims of diseases that destroy the optic nerve and those who have injuries of the central nervous system.

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The team developed two genetically altered strains of mice: one with an overactive protein for regeneration and one that could not form scar tissue blocking the regeneration. By combining the two mutations the team was able to cause the optic nerves to return to an embryonic state, stimulating rapid, robust regeneration.

"For us, this is a dream becoming reality," says Dr. Dong Feng Chen, lead author of the study, assistant scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. "This is the closest science has come to regenerating so many nerve fibers over a long distance to reach their targets and to repair a nerve previously considered irreparably damaged."

The research is described in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Cell Science

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