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Allen Institute for Brain Science Launches Three New Landmark Atlas Projects Focusing on the Human Brain, Developing Brain and Spinal Cord
Date:3/12/2008

standing of human developmental disorders such as autism and other age-associated conditions including schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. In addition, it is likely to uncover new opportunities for therapeutic intervention, as genes that are important for healthy brain development and maintenance may be helpful in slowing progress of degenerative diseases, preventing life-changing secondary brain damage from stroke or other brain injuries and repairing brain tissue already damaged by injury or disease.

Analyzing the Spinal Cord

In response to specific requests from the spinal cord research community and advocacy groups, and with support from a diverse consortium of funders, the Institute is following its successful ABA-Mouse Brain project with an atlas mapping gene expression in the mouse spinal cord. Expected to be complete in a one-year timeframe, the ABA-Spinal Cord will be a comprehensive genome-wide survey of gene expression that pinpoints where each gene is expressed -- or "turned on" -- in both juvenile and adult mouse spinal cord.

"The spinal cord is relatively small, compared to the brain, but it is a crucial highway for transmitting signals between the brain and the rest of the body in order to make everything work the way we need it to," said Dr. Jane Roskams, associate professor at the Brain Research Center and iCord at the University of British Columbia. "It may be small, but can be catastrophic when it becomes broken. The problem is that we know very little about the genes that control different functions in the spinal cord. This mouse spinal cord atlas will absolutely help researchers advance their work in this area in quantum leaps, and maybe it will help us discover how to make spinal cord patients take leaps of their own."

The Institute hopes this unique database will support the entire spinal cord research community, offering an essential baseline of the normal mouse spinal cord for comparison with models of injuries
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SOURCE Allen Institute for Brain Science
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