Neurons for Algernon

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Mon Apr 04 2005 - 16:30:46 MDT

>"Brain-building Protein Identified: Key to organ's Development,
>Could Be Used to Develop Therapies for Fixing Damaged Tissue"
>Betterhumans Staff
>March 30, 2005; A protein that's key to determining the developing brain's
>size and shape could be used to manipulate stem cells to rebuild the organ
>in adults. Researchers from the Picower Institute for Learning and
>Memory at MIT have discovered that a form of the protein CPG15 protects
>brain cells from programmed cell death. [1, 2] "CPG15 is one of the few
>molecules shown to be essential for survival of specific stem-cell populations
>in the developing brain," says researcher Elly Nedivi. "By controlling
>CPG15 allows the progenitor pool (of cells) to expand, and even modest
>changes in the size of the progenitor pool during its exponential growth
>phase can drastically affect the final size and shape of the cortex."
> Underscoring the protein's impact, over-expressing it in rats gave them
>enlarged brains with grooves and furrows similar to those in evolved
>mammalian brains. "We propose that by countering early apoptosis in
>specific progenitor populations, CPG15 has a role in regulating size and
>shape of the mammalian forebrain," write Nedivi and colleagues. The find
>could lead to new treatments for brain damage and disease. Researchers
>have speculated that a lack of adult stem cells in the brain contributes to
>memory deficits and other cognitive disorders. CPG15 could be used
>to enhance the survival of existing stem cells in the brain or to grow brain
>cells outside the body for transplantation.
>1. The research is reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience
>(read Abstract

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