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Brain Repair (in Mice; Not G.O.P.-ready) November 25, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Brain, Science, Uncategorizable.

Harvard scientists have performed a neuron transplant into mice with malfunctioning hypothalamuses (hypothalami??).  The mice formerly could not respond to leptin, the signal of fullness, and were consequently little porkers (“morbidly obese”, in geekspeak). The neuron transplants repaired defective brain circuits, enabling them to respond to leptin and thus experience substantially less weight gain.  The treated mice grew to approximately 30 percent less than their untreated siblings or siblings treated in other ways.  This resulted in a nice paper in Science1 and a slap on the forhead for most everyone who thinks neuronal repair in the brain is impossible—which was nearly everyone, I guess, including me, although I will confess that the nature of brain  plasticity is an area which has always required more research.

"The next step for us is to ask parallel questions of other parts of the brain and spinal cord, those involved in ALS and with spinal cord injuries," Jeffrey Macklis, Harvard University professor of stem cell and regenerative biology and HMS professor of neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and one of three corresponding authors on the paper said. "In these cases, can we rebuild circuitry in the mammalian brain? I suspect that we can."

I am leaving out the nifty science they did to monitor this pretty amazing and heretofore-considered-mad-science science, but it’s pretty damn good, too.  it seems like there’s a whole lot going on in science right now that demands an open mind and a hell of a lot of work. 

So get busy, you guys.

1 "Transplanted Hypothalamic Neurons Restore Leptin Signaling and Ameliorate Obesity in db/db Mice" by Czupryn et al. Science, Vol. 334 (6059), November 25, 2011.


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