Researchers discover a “switch” in Alzheimer’s and stroke patient brains

A new study by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute (Sanford-Burnham) has identified a chemical “switch” that controls both the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells and the survival of existing nerve cells in the brain. The switch that shuts off the signals that promote neuron production and survival is in abundance in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and stroke victims. The studysuggests that chemical switch, MEF2, may be a potential therapeutic target to protect against neuronal loss in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and autism.

Turning science on its head

The fact that it is the most evolved neurons, the ones that have expanded dramatically in humans, suggest that what we’re seeing might be the ‘future.’ As neuronal diversity increases and the brain needs to process more and more complex information, neurons change the way they use myelin to achieve more.

Researchers find new pathway for neuron repair

The implications for human health -- although a long way down the road -- are important, Rolls said. For example, in the case of stroke, when a region of the brain suffers blood loss, dendrites on brain cells are damaged and can be repaired only if blood loss is very brief. Otherwise, it is thought those brain cells die. But if those cells are able to regenerate dendrites, and if scientists learn how dendrite regrowth happens, researchers may be able to promote this process.

Scientists identify clue to regrowing nerve cells

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a chain reaction that triggers the regrowth of some damaged nerve cell branches, a discovery that one day may help improve treatments for nerve injuries that can cause loss of sensation or paralysis.

Capturing brain activity with sculpted light

A major aim of today’s neuroscience is to understand how an organism’s nervous system processes sensory input and generates behavior. To achieve this goal, scientists must obtain detailed maps of how the nerve cells are wired up in the brain, as well as information on how these networks interact in real time.

How Neurons Get Wired

University of Arizona scientists have discovered an unknown mechanism that establishes polarity in developing nerve cells. Understanding how nerve cells make connections is an important step in developing cures for nerve damage resulting from spinal cord injuries or neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice

For the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into nerve cells that helped mice regain the ability to learn and remember.

A study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the first to show that human stem cells can successfully implant themselves in the brain and then heal neurological deficits, says senior author Su-Chun Zhang, a professor of neuroscience and neurology.