Proteomics, which is the large-scale study of proteins, is considered the next step in the study of biological systems.
Proteomics is much more complicated than genomics because while an organism’s genome is more or less constant, the proteome differs from cell to cell and from time to time.
A chapter in the recent book, Neuroproteomics, focuses on how proteomics may help in nerve cell regeneration from peripheral nerve injury, or maybe even nerve neuropathy.
The author, M.W. Massing et al, describes how pervasive nerve injury is in our society.
“Although a common and increasingly prevalent wartime condition, injury to peripheral nerves, plexuses, and roots is present in 5% of patients seen in civilian trauma centers.
In one study, almost half of peripheral nerve injuries at trauma centers were due to motor vehicle accidents and about half required surgery.
Peripheral nerve injuries can substantially impact quality of life through loss of function and increased risk of secondary disabilities from falls, fractures, and other injuries.”
He continues on to stress the importance of lipid-rich Schwann cells in nerve cell regeneration:
“The primary supporting cell for peripheral nerves is the Schwann cell.
Schwann cells wrap around axons in a spiral fashion multiple times and their plasma membranes form a lipid-rich tubular cover around the axon known as the myelin sheath or the neurilemma.
Schwann cells and the myelin sheath support and maintain axons and help to guide axons during axonal regenerationfollowing nerve injury.”
This raises the controversy about the relationship between Lipitor and nerve neuropathy.
Later the author reveals the main obstacle to nerve regeneration lies not growing myelin sheath, making the right connections:
“The major key to recovery of function following peripheral nerve lesions is the accurate regeneration of axons to their original target end organs.
A recognized leader of clinical nerve repair once stated, ‘The core of the problem is not promoting axon regeneration, but in getting them back to where they belong.'”
Simply stated, perhaps there is hope that nerve neuropathy can be treated when researchers can overcome the very challenging barriers.