Researchers Discover Distinct Brain Cells That Will Revolutionize Understanding on Aging and Brain Development

In Education

The Salk Institute researchers have created a comprehensive “atlas” of the human brain, uncovering numerous distinct cell types. This study has the potential to transform our knowledge of brain development, aging, and illnesses, and may act as a guide for future neurological research. It could have a significant impact on neuroscience, leading to new treatments and therapies.

Humans have around 80 billion neurons

Scientists analysed over 500,000 cerebral cells derived from 46 distinct brain areas within the brains of three adult male individuals in good health. These investigative procedures were originally tested on mice. The outcomes underscore the considerable heterogeneity observed in the human brain, which contains approximately 80 billion neurons, presenting a stark disparity when compared to the relatively homogenous 80 million neurons present in mouse brains.

Researchers have achieved a breakthrough by successfully adapting mouse techniques to map hundreds of cell types in the human brain. This milestone not only affirms the effectiveness of these methods but also paves the way for more comprehensive and precise future studies.

Salk’s Genomics Analysis Laboratory director professor Joseph Ecker said that the findings will usher in a new brain science era where scientists can understand brain development, aging and effect of disease. Prof. Ecker’s enthusiasm emphasizes the crucial role of the study in advancing neuroscience and highlights its potential impact on various areas of brain science.

Understanding mammalian brain cells

The research is part of the National Institute of Health’s BRAIN Initiative, launched in 2014, with the goal of understanding mammalian brains at the cell level. The Salk Institute is a significant contributor to this multi-institutional effort, which complements studies from other organizations to provide a comprehensive understanding of the brain’s complexities.

Margarita Behrens, a research professor at Salk’s Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, believes that by applying their techniques to a larger number of brains, new avenues of research can be explored. She underscores the scalability of their methods and suggests that this is only the beginning, opening the door to a wide range of questions, including those related to genetic predispositions and individual variations in brain function.

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