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Rebuilding the brain's circuitry
Date:11/24/2011

insulin and glucose, these neurons had effectively joined the brain's network and rewired the damaged circuitry.

"It's interesting to note that these embryonic neurons were wired in with less precision than one might think," Flier said. "But that didn't seem to matter. In a sense, these neurons are like antennas that were immediately able to pick up the leptin signal. From an energy-balance perspective, I'm struck that a relatively small number of genetically normal neurons can so efficiently repair the circuitry."

"The finding that these embryonic cells are so efficient at integrating with the native neuronal circuitry makes us quite excited about the possibility of applying similar techniques to other neurological and psychiatric diseases of particular interest to our laboratory," said Anderson.

The researchers call their findings a proof of concept for the broader idea that new neurons can integrate specifically to modify complex circuits that are defective in a mammalian brain.

The researchers are interested in further investigating controlled neurogenesis -- directing growth of new neurons in the brain from within -- the subject of much of Macklis's research as well as Flier's 2005 paper, and a potential route to new therapies.

"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," Macklis said. "In these cases, can we rebuild circuitry in the mammalian brain? I suspect that we can."


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Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-960-7221
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

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