We are still in the dark about many of the brain’s details, but scientists are constantly searching for new ways to switch on lights inside. These green-coloured branches are nerves in a mouse brain, genetically engineered to produce fluorescence. Remarkable as this technology is, it is actually fairly old. Yet hidden between the glowing branches, a new technique shows a different type of brain activity. The purple-coloured speckles are mRNAs – messenger molecules vital to building and maintaining life. This brain is encased in a special jelly, fixing the mRNAs in place so they can be lit up with a technique called single-molecule FISH. Dotted throughout the green nerves, these particular messenger molecules produce scaffolding to support nerve endings. Investigating mRNA patterns in human brains may pinpoint differences between healthy nerves and those suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Written by John Ankers
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