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Monday, January 4, 2010

Jamaican-born scientist making strides in nerve research

Jamaica Gleaner News "Who would have thought that a little girl from Darliston in Westmoreland would turn out to be a First World scientist who may have discovered a new way to repair damaged nerves?

Now living in Canada, Jamaican-born Dr Patrice Smith and her colleagues at Harvard have discovered a way to repair damaged nerves by allowing the adult brain to respond to repair signals that are induced after injury. Dr Smith explained to Flair in an email interview, that as we get older, we lose the ability to repair damage to the brain and spinal cord, because our nervous system is actively preventing the immune system from sending out repair messages. If we get a cold, for example, the immune system kicks in and helps with our recovery. However, if our brain or spinal cord is damaged, this repair message is blocked. What they have discovered is that this mechanism is blocked by a molecule called SOCS3."

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