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Scientists Identify First Gene in Programmed Axon Degeneration, University of Massachusetts Medical School Study


6/8/2012 7:19:19 AM

Degeneration of the axon and synapse, the slender projection through which neurons transmit electrical impulses to neighboring cells, is a hallmark of some of the most crippling neurodegenerative and brain diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington's disease and peripheral neuropathy. Scientists have worked for decades to understand axonal degeneration and its relation to these diseases. Now, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School are the first to describe a gene -- dSarm/Sarm1 -- responsible for actively promoting axon destruction after injury. The research, published June 7 online by Science, provides evidence of an exciting new therapeutic target that could be used to delay or even stop axon decay.

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