Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Neural Noël

Reconnecting neurons after brain injury using gene therapy

25 December 2020

Neural Noël

You’d be forgiven for thinking this is an abstract picture of a Christmas tree with baubles. In fact it’s a festive slice of mouse brain showing astroglial cells (green) and newly formed neurons (red). Astroglia are essential for patching up damage in the event of brain or spinal cord injuries, but the resulting glial scar prevents the growth and reconnection of neurons, inhibiting functional recovery. A stroke victim might never regain proper speech, for example, a spinal injury victim may never walk. Researchers are therefore investigating ways to convert scar cells into electrically connected neurons that might help promote recovery. And, using a gene therapy technique that delivers a neuron-promoting factor to glial cells, they’ve done it, at least in mice. Such a promising step deserves a song, don’t you think? All together: Neural, Neural, Neural, Neura-al. Born are the neurons from astroglial (cells). I didn’t say a good song.

Written by Ruth Williams

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