Campus & Community

Research in brief

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Optic nerve regenerated for first time, brings hope to glaucoma sufferers

For the first time, scientists have regenerated a damaged optic nerve – from the eye to the brain. This achievement, which occurred in laboratory mice and is described in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Cell Science, holds great promise for victims of diseases that destroy the optic nerve, and for sufferers of central nervous system injuries.

“For us, this is a dream becoming reality,” says Dong Feng Chen, lead author of the study, assistant scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “This is the closest science has come to regenerating so many nerve fibers over a long distance to reach their targets and to repair a nerve previously considered irreparably damaged.”

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Mechanical tension helps shape lung development

Organ development in the embryo requires precise coordination and timing of cell growth in three-dimensional space to produce the correct anatomic form and shape. Researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston, led by Donald Ingber, a senior researcher in the Vascular Biology Program, have demonstrated that the process of budding and branching in the developing lung is driven by mechanical forces generated within individual cells. They have also identified a possible biochemical target for intervention. These insights could lead to new ways to prevent, minimize, or even correct diseases and anomalies of the lungs, which are common in premature newborns.

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