What if you had a spinal injury that left you unable to use your legs and, perhaps, your arms? Ideally medicine could coax the nerve cells (neurons) in your spinal cord to regrow and reconnect into the patterns that existed before the injury. Medicine isn’t able to perform this feat but research has been finding out more about the secrets of axon regeneration and wiring.
A paper published last year “Axon Regeneration Requires a Conserved MAP Kinase Pathway” (published February 6, 2009 in Science) describes what looks to be the key biochemical pathway for motor neuron regeneration. Activation of this pathway is required after the injury of an axon to switch a mature neuron with its resistance to change into a state where it is able to grow new processes.