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Methods for Promoting Nerve Regeneration Using Centella Asiatica Compounds


OHSU # 0761


Technology Overview

Centella asiatica extracts promote nerve regeneration. Following traumatic or disease-induced axonal degeneration or transaction in the peripheral nervous system, axonal regeneration and neural network re-connectivity may ensue, often resulting in at least partial functional recovery. However, the new axons extend randomly, and are often misdirected. Recovery is also slow as the rate of axonal elongation is slow.

Centella asiatica herb, commonly known as "gotu kola", is an Indian medicinal plant used for over 200 years. Modern uses of this herb include treatment of psoriasis, skin ulcers, wound healing, leprosy, and as a general "nerve tonic" and memory booster. However, there has previously been no knowledge of specific components or compounds of Centella asiatica extracts that have activity specifically for nerve regeneration.

In vitro studies show that certain Centella asiatica extracts elicit a marked increase in neurite elongation in human SH-SY5Y cells to a significantly greater degree than FK506 which is used as a positive control. In vivo, these extracts have been tested in a sciatic nerve crush model with oral administration. Functional recovery was observed earlier and progressed more rapidly in Centella asiatica extract treated animals. Furthermore, regenerated axons in the treated animals were larger in size and demonstrated more and thicker myelin sheaths indicating more advanced axon regeneration (i.e., grew at a faster rate).

Market Summary

Spinal cord injuries: Approximately 250,000 - 400,000 individuals in the United States have spinal cord injuries. Every year, approximately 11,000 people sustain new spinal cord injuries - which equates to thirty new injuries every day. 60 percent of these individuals are 30 years old or younger.

Parkinson's Disease

It is estimated that 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. Currently 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. While the condition usually develops after the age of 65, 15% of those diagnosed are under 50.


Approximately 400,000 Americans acknowledge having MS, and every week about 200 people are diagnosed. Worldwide, MS may affect 2.5 million individuals.

Competitive Environment

There are a number of medicines that help to ease the symptoms of PD. Several new medicines are being studied that may slow the progression. Many promise to improve the lives of people with PD, but none have been shown to halt or reverse the neuronal damage caused by the disease.

Although there is still no cure for MS, some strategies are available to modify the disease course, treat exacerbations (also called attacks, relapses, or flare-ups), manage symptoms, improve function and safety, and provide emotional support. In combination, these treatments enhance the quality of life for people living with MS, but do not reduce the damage caused by the disease.

Today, there is still no way to reverse damage to the spinal cord following injury. Researchers are working on new treatments, including innovative treatments, prostheses and medications that may promote nerve cell regeneration or improve the function of the nerves that remain after a spinal cord injury, but no successful treatment currently exists.

Patent Status

Pending patent application in the United States.


J Pharm Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;57(9): 1221-9

Licensing Opportunity

OHSU 761 is currently available for exclusive licensing.



For more information, contact:

Robert Copenhaver
Technology Development Manager