Facial Nerve Regeneration Lab

Identifying New Means of Treating Facial Paralysis

Facial paralysis is a debilitating condition that affects thousands of people. This condition can cause a staggering array of problems for those who suffer from it. The loss of movement on one side of the face not only distorts the image of one’s face during emotional expression, but impacts speech, the ability to eat and drink normally, and the health of one’s eye. 

When appropriate, surgery can help to rehabilitate a patient with facial paralysis. Despite excellent surgical technique, we are currently limited by the regenerative capacity of the body.

THE MISSION of our research is therefore to identify new treatments that improve the results of current facial paralysis treatments.

We do this by exploring the regenerative cues that the body uses to restore tissue after nerve injury, in particular through pathways of neurogenesis and nerve repair, such as the hedgehog signaling pathway.  

Hedgehog-responsive cells in the regenerating mouse facial nerve


Fibroblasts and Facial Nerve Regeneration

Hedgehog-responsive fibroblasts

Lineage tracing in transgenic mice reveals a unique population of injury-responsive fibroblasts that are present within the facial nerve, and respond impressively to injury. These cells appear to help restore the three dimensional architecture of the nerve after injury, and may represent a new therapeutic target for the treatment of high grade facial nerve injury.

Injury Response in the Human Facial Nerve

Chronic denervation

Analysis from tissues that would otherwise be discarded after surgery reveals that the hedgehog pathway may also be involved in chronic changes that occur in the human facial paralysis.   

Communicative Participation in Facial Paralysis

Communication in Facial Paralysis

Comparison of communicative participation (as reflected by CPIB theta scores +/- SD) between facial paralysis and other populations cited from previously published literature. Facial paralysis appears to cause a profound deficit in communicative participation.


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