Eckenstein Lab Research

Nerve regeneration is regulated by specific cues present in the environment of injured neurons. What is the precise molecular nature of these cues and how do they signal the injured neuron to regenerate? To address these questions we are taking a multidisciplinary approach, ranging from molecular biology, to animal studies involving genetically modified mice. Our past work indicates that growth factors, such as FGFs, and cytokines, such as CNTF, play an important role in neuronal survival and regeneration after injury.

We now are defining the precise role of several members of the FGF family and CNTF by studying nerve injury in FGF and CNTF knockout mice. In addition, we are defining the intracellular targets of FGF signaling in injured neurons, using genetically modified FGF receptors in both cell culture models of neurite outgrowth and in transgenic mice.

Through collaborative efforts with other groups we study whether FGFs and CNTF are important in limiting damage after spinal cord injury and in preventing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.