Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 10th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Celebrating Stem Cells – II Ready for Axon

Transplantable lab-grown nerve fibres

17 December 2019

Ready for Axon

Injury to a nerve is often followed by a long period of recovery. The long thin fibres of nerve cells, known as axons, need time to grow back – but sometimes the damage is too great, leading to permanent loss of feeling, sensation or memory. Here is a new way to help – axons grown in the lab for transplants. First a cluster of human stem cells forms an organoid (green blob, left) – this shares some of the functions of the brain, like developing healthy 'branches' called neurites with their own axons – pictured growing over 50 days inside tubes of nourishing hydrogel. Researchers were able to pass signals down these axon columns (the longest measuring 1 cm) and may one day grow working axons from a patient’s own stem cells to patch up and repair damaged nerves – like an engineer replacing a severed electric cable, albeit 100 times smaller.

Written by John Ankers

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.