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Medtech Impact on Wellness

Nerve injury types have multiple causes, from physical trauma to diseases like multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative disorders. Nerve damage repair has been an elusive science, but Dr. Silver shares an exciting therapy on the verge of phase one clinical trials.

Listen and learn

  • The difference between central and peripheral nervous system functions and damage as well as nerve injury classifications,
  • How a compound in our system prevents nerves from growing where they shouldn’t but also inhibits nerve repair, and
  • How NervGen’s peptide works to block that compound briefly to engender sprouting mechanisms for nerve repair. 

Dr. Jerry Silver is a co-inventor and scientific advisor at NervGen Pharma as well as professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine. He’s won numerous awards, including the Christopher Reeve-Irvine Research Medal.

Currently, he’s performing a focused group of experiments with NervGen’s regenerative peptide as a means toward spinal cord injury treatment. Much of his current work stems from a long-ago research question: how do nerves make decisions to grow in some places but not others? In turns out that the presence of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan is in abundance at those stopping points. Significantly, developing scare tissue in injured nerve tissue is also full of proteoglycans: it was confirmed that those molecules block nerve regeneration.

Dr. Silver catches listeners up with facts about neurodegenerative diseases well as other classical nerve injury repair experiments. He describes flaws in different approaches to inhibit the presence of those proteoglycans, such as injecting directly in the spinal cord. As Dr. Silver says, “wouldn’t it be better if you didn’t have to touch the spinal cord at all?”

This question lead to his peptide work at NervGen. In 2009, his lab and John Flanagan’s group in Harvard discovered the first receptor that nerves make that allows them to interact with proteoglycans and stick them in place. This sigma receptor became the target of his work, and they’ve developed a peptide that blocks that receptor, allowing for “sprouting” to take place in a robust way. His lab continues to work with this exciting step forward in nerve damage repair.

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