Via EurekAlert!: "Scientists have discovered a way to enhance nerve regeneration in the peripheral nervous system. This important discovery could lead to new treatments for nerve damage caused by diabetes or traumatic injuries. Peripheral nerves connect the brain and spinal cord to the body, and without them, there is no movement or sensation. Peripheral nerve damage is common and often irreversible. ... [Researchers] used a rat model to examine a pathway that helps nerves to grow and survive. Within this pathway is a molecular brake, called PTEN, that helps to prevent excessive cell growth under normal conditions. In addition to discovering for the first time that PTEN is found in the peripheral nervous system, [the team] demonstrated that following nerve injury, PTEN prevents peripheral nerves from regenerating. The team was able to block PTEN, an approach that dramatically increased nerve outgrowth. ... We were amazed to see such a dramatic effect over such a short time period. No one knew that nerves in the peripheral system could regenerate in this way, nerves that can be damaged if someone has diabetes for example. This finding could eventually help people who have lost feeling or motor skills recover and live with less pain."