Could Schwann Cells Hold the Key to Eternal Youth?

By Melissa Lafsky | May 19, 2008 5:20 pm

neuronSchwann cells are talented little buggers, single-handedly weaving layers of myelin around axons in the nerves of our peripheral nervous system. And they also have age-reversing abilities that would make Dr. Heidegger proud. Now, David B. Parkinson of the University College London and his colleagues have isolated the protein that turns back the clock for the cells, returning them to their youthful state.

The cells have the ability to “dedifferentiate,” or revert back to an immature state in which they can no longer manufacture myelin, in order to speed the healing of injured nerves. While it’s known that the protein Krox-20 causes immature Schwann cells to grow up fast and start myelin production, until now no one knew what exactly caused them to reverse the process and return to juvenility.

Suspecting that the key protein was c-Jun, which Schwann cells produce in their youth, Parkinson cultured neurons with Schwann cells whose c-Jun gene they could turn on and off at will. When the c-Jun switch was flipped, myelination slowed, indicating that the protein kept the cells from maturing. If c-Jun was missing, the Schwann cells couldn’t dedifferentiate.

Next on the agenda for Parkinson and his team is whether c-Jun is involved in myelin-related illnesses like Charcot-Marie Tooth disease and Guillain-Barre syndrome, as well as whether it could be helpful with myelin regeneration in multiple sclerosis—which, since it attacks the central nervous system, involves oligodendrocytes, the first cousin of Schwann cells.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: What’s Inside Your Brain?
  • roy lester david

    when God said in genesis that man should only live to about 80 years old, it then happened. Previously, men were living above a hundred, think of Methusalah, 900 plus, and Adam similarly. this could only have been made by deleting or reconfiguring the basic data for human life-the DNA. The embedded code was somehow altered or deleted to produce the current lifespan that we have now.

  • Elle Bach

    Roy,

    So, it?s easier to cling to your belief in a loving Christian (or Jewish) God that would purposefully shortened the human life-span to 80 years, rather than acknowledge the existence of biological evolution? How pathetic; you people are gluttons for punishment.

    When your kind of endemic ignorance passes from the face of the earth, the collective consciousness of mankind will finally be eligible to rightfully claim the mantle ?intelligent.? All those who long for a world minius the hate and divisiveness caused by rdivisive eligious extremism will, at last celebrate the arrival of a true ?heaven on earth.?

  • eddie

    lol elle your right but learn how to type .. and yea religion does believe people lived to a 1000 when man first walked the earth and that they stood like 10ft tall! Yet the proof of this has yet to be discovered and if true then who are you to assume roy that it was god’s choice and not some enviromental physical reason why we lost that lifespan and physical maturation?

    if anything changed it would be evolution not “god”.. and we can evolve any direction man for better or for worse. k?

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »