Skip to main content
April 2024

Researchers at the University of Connecticut (UConn) have identified a potentially transformative factor for regenerating damaged optic nerves, which they believe could one day prevent irreversible blindness.

Nerve cell, computer generated artwork.

The research team has found that the nuclear factor erythroid 3 (Nfe3) protein, specifically found in nerves originating from the retina and not produced by adult neurons under normal conditions, can stimulate the regrowth of nerve cells.

The discovery was published in Experimental Neurology. 1

By applying gene therapy to adult mice with optic nerve injuries, the researchers induced the production of Nfe3, leading to the regrowth of individual nerve fibres. This regrowth mirrors the effectiveness of the best-known regenerative factors, yet Nfe3 stands out for its lack of associated risks, such as inflammation or tumour induction, making it a more promising candidate for further research.

Speaking with online news organisation, Ophthalmology Breaking News, neuroscientist Ephraim Trakhtenberg said the research “opens a whole new novel realm of research” that “could help glaucoma and other types of nerve damage”.

This article has been republished courtesy of Mivision. 


1. Lukomska, A., Frost, M.P., Trakhtenberg, N., et al., Nfe2l3 promotes neuroprotection and long-distance axon regeneration after injury in vivo, Experimental Neurology (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2024.114741