Newly discovered ‘support system’ for axons suggests a novel therapeutic target for neurodegenerative diseases

Axons are long, finger-like projections of neurons that transmit critical signals throughout the nervous system. But because they are fragile, they are often among the first casualties of certain neurodegenerative diseases, causing symptoms such as muscle weakness or numbness of limbs.

New research from the University at Buffalo reveals that despite the fragility of axons, the cellular envelope (Schwann cells) that encases them can come to their rescue when it senses that axons have been harmed.

Published in Nature Neuroscience last week, the paper reveals for the first time that Schwann cells, which surround axons within nerves like a glove covers a hand, can come to the assistance of injured axons.