Reconnecting neurons after brain injury using gene therapy
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.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.