Our nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord and neurons [nerves] – an intricate network that allows our brain to communicate with the rest of our body. Development of the human nervous system begins when an embryo is in its 5th week. Neurons extend a projection from their cell body called the axon (pictured in green, pink and blue in a developing mouse spinal cord) along a specific path in response to a variety of molecular cues, systematically guiding its journey to the spinal cord (left) and eventually the wider body, establishing the nervous system. One particular molecular cue called netrin1 organises axon growth, but researchers have been trying to understand how. By halting the activity of netrin1, axon growth was disrupted and highly disorganised (right), highlighting how netrin1 influences axon growth and providing insight into how researchers could regenerate axons in people with nerve damage.
Written by Katie Panteli
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