Nerve disease and injuries are tough to treat, largely because there’s no way to regenerate many damaged nerve cells. Neurologist Joseph Corey is trying to change that.
Corey and a team of scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School, the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the University of California, San Francisco used incredibly tiny polymer fibers — only nanometers wide — as a scaffold. They coaxed a certain type of brain cell, called an oligodendrocyte, to form a protective coating, called a myelin sheath, around the fiber. The artificial fiber mimicked the shape and size of the type of nerve cell that transmits signals, called an axon.