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Chili peppers spark discovery
Date:2/3/2013

thought to see what the ganglia looked like.

"What I found is that we actually got more neurons than less," he said.

The damage, he said, was "like a double-edged sword. It's damaging the nervous system but it's also inducing a cascade of events to fix it." Before this discovery, decades of neuroscientific thinking held that new neurons can only be formed inside the brain, putting them off limits to harvesting, let alone experimentation.

If Czaja can find the chemical agent stimulating the creation of new neurons, doctors could in theory use it to produce new neurons and graft them to damaged areas of the brain. Because they are from the patient, doctors might avoid autoimmune problems and both the ethical questions and technical challenges surrounding human embryonic stem cells.

"I think that our nervous system is much more plastic and much more capable and powerful than we think, than we imagine," said Czaja. "That's just unleashing this potential. And the beauty of our model is that this is something on the periphery we can use to fix the central nervous system."


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Contact: Krzysztof Czaja, assistant professor, Washington State U
czajak@vetmed.wsu.edu
509-335-7645
Washington State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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