Mathematical modelling of axonal sprouting signalling

One of the major challenges of neuroscience is the lack of regeneration of the mammalian central nervous system when it is injured. Extensive effort has been devoted to promote growth of regenerating axons (fibres that sent impulses from one neuron to another) across the lesion site. Since 55 per cent of spinal cord injuries are incomplete, in many cases a portion of axonal connections between brain neurons remain intact. These intact connections can be induced to form collateral branches, or sprouts, that cross the spinal cord midline and stimulate the other side, leading to some locomotion recovery. Finding ways to enhance this sprouting is a promising strategy to improve recovery in patients with incomplete spinal cord injuries. Ana Le Meur is using mathematical modelling to complement experiments to gain knowledge about the mechanisms regulating sprouting of neuronal connections. By generating a comprehensive model of collateral sprouting, this research will take an important step toward enhancing recovery after spinal cord injury.