Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Connecting to Network
25 November 2016

Connecting to Network

Despite its critical function in controlling our thoughts and actions, the brain is incredibly fragile. Once damaged, whether through injury or neurodegenerative diseases, neurons generally cannot be replaced, causing permanent loss of brain functions. Neuronal transplants offer a potential solution to this problem, but how well new neurons integrate into the host brain was until recently still unknown. In a landmark study, researchers working on the mouse visual cortex have demonstrated that transplanted neurons (in blue) can form appropriate functional connections with the existing cells around them (in yellow). Transplanted embryonic nerve cells were monitored as they differentiated into the correct cell types and contacted other neurons in a stereotypical way, effectively replacing missing cells in the damaged tissues of adult mice. Suggesting that the mammalian brain really can use transplanted cells to repair itself, this study raises hopes that transplants could one day help mitigate brain damage in humans.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

  • Image by Sofia Grade (LMU/Helmholtz Zentrum München)
  • Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Martinsried; Physiological Genomics, Biomedical Center, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Planegg; and Helmholtz Center Munich, German Research Center for Environmental Health, Neuherberg, Germany
  • Image copyright held by original authors
  • Research published in Nature, October 2016

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