Trading Sickness for Health: Swapping Brain Cells Points to New Huntington's Therapies
Monday, July 17, 2023
New research appearing in the journal Nature Biotechnology answers important questions about the viability of treatments that seek to replace diseased and aged cells in the central nervous system with healthy ones. Its findings have implications for a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders—including Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and schizophrenia—that have been linked to glia, a population of cells that support brain health and function.
“A broad variety of disorders we associate with neuronal loss now appear to be caused by dysfunctional glial cells,” said Steve Goldman, MD, PhD, co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester lead author of the new study. “This makes these diseases attractive targets for stem and progenitor cell-based therapies.”
The new study describes the ability of human glial progenitor cells–precursor cells that can give rise to both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, the two major types of glia—to compete with one another in the adult brain, and the competitive advantage of young and healthy cells over aged and diseased cells.
Read More: Trading Sickness for Health: Swapping Brain Cells Points to New Huntington's Therapies
Images capture unseen details of the synapse
Wednesday, June 14, 2023
Scientists have created one of the most detailed 3D images of the synapse, the important juncture where neurons communicate with each other through an exchange of chemical signals. These nanometer scale models will help scientists better understand and study neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease and schizophrenia.
The new study appears in the journal PNAS and was authored by a team led by Steve Goldman, MD, PhD, co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester and the University of Copenhagen. The findings represent a significant technical achievement that allows researchers to study the different cells that converge at individual synapses at a level of detail not previously achievable.
“It is one thing to understand the structure of the synapse from the literature, but it is another to see the precise geometry of interactions between individual cells with your own eyes,” said Abdellatif Benraiss, PhD, a research associate professor in the Center for Translational Neuromedicine and co-author of the study. “The ability to measure these extremely small environments is a young field, and holds the potential to advance our understanding of a number of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases in which synaptic function is disturbed.”
Read More: Images capture unseen details of the synapse