Researchers supply major results for understanding the thalamus, the 'relay center' of the brain
The findings obtained from studies of the zebrafish can be transferred to the human brain. Credit: Graphics: ITG, KIT
The thalamus is the central translator in the brain: Specialized nerve cells (neurons) receive information from the sensory organs, process it, and transmit it deep into the brain. Researchers from the Institute of Toxicology and Genetics of KIT have now identified the genetic factors Lhx2 and Lhx9 responsible for the development of these neurons. Their results contribute to understanding the development of the thalamus. In the long term, they are to help healing thalamic strokes.
With 100 billion nerve cells, the brain is the most complex organ in the human body. "We want to understand the development program behind," says Dr. Steffen Scholpp from the ITG. "We want to find out how individual parts of the brain develop, this means, what makes precursor cells build a specialized area such as the thalamus." Scholpp's group at ITG studies the development of the thalamus. "It is the central interface between the brain and the outer world: Everything that is perceived via eyes, ears or the tactile sense has to pass the thalamus before it is routed to the cerebral cortex for further processing."
In the long term, the scientists want to be able to heal damaged brain parts by a tissue replacement therapy. If, for example, brain tissue is damaged after an infarct, is the body is not able to regenerate this tissue. "Today, stroke is the most frequent cause of disability acquired at adult age and due to its central role, damage of the thalamus is very serious," emphasizes Steffen Scholpp. "For this reason, we have to find a strategy to activate stem cells such that the damaged tissue can be replaced." Recently, an important step was made by the scientists: By studying zebrafish, they identified Lhx2 and Lhx9, the factors controlling the development of neurons in the thalamus. "Without these factors, the thalamus would accommodate undifferentiated nerve cells only this means, the precursory cells lack the information required for specialization," explains the biologist. Analysis of brain development in zebrafish allows conclusions to be drawn with respect to the development in all vertebrates, including human. The results of the group are published in the current issue of the PLoS Biology journal.
In the same study, Scholpp and his team identified another factor that acts as "adhesive" in the thalamus: The cell adhesion molecule Pcdh10b ensures development of the thalamus without mixing with the surrounding brain areas. If this factor is lacking, the neurons differentiate, but do not find their target destination. It is now the objective of the researchers to activate these factors in the cultivating dish (in vitro) in undifferentiated cells first for new thalamus tissue to form. In close cooperation with engineers, the biologists are already developing 2-dimensional cell culture systems. In January, they will start a 3D cell cultivation project. "KIT offers excellent opportunities: Parallel to our research, materials researchers work on the development of various biomaterials (biopolymers) which will be tested in the cultivation experiments", says Scholpp.
Dr. Steffen Scholpp thinks that it will be possible to heal stroke patients in the future. "Of course, this will take some years. But it is our ultimate goal to take out quiescent stem cells from a stroke patient and to switch on the specific development biology program in these cells outside of the body. Finally, we plan to bring them back to the position of the damaged tissue. This would be real healing."
Under the Emmy Noether program, the German Research Foundation (DFG) has granted funding in the amount of EUR 1.3 million to Dr. Steffen Scholpp for a duration of five years. The Emmy Noether program is designed to support young scientists in establishing an own working group. The team of Dr. Steffen Scholpp presently comprises one postdoctoral research fellow, three doctoral students, a technical employee, and two master students.
Provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
- Discovery of 'creator' gene for cerebral cortex points to potential stem cell treatments Jan 17, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Area deep within the brain found to play role in sensory perception Sep 24, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- The thalamus, middleman of the brain, becomes a sensory conductor Dec 07, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Post brain injury: New nerve cells originate from neural stem cells Mar 11, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Stem cells rescue nerve cells by direct contact Feb 01, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
19 hours ago Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May ...
Neuroscience 9 hours ago | 5 / 5 (4) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
Neuroscience 12 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (11) | 0 |
You're standing near an airport luggage carousel and your bag emerges on the conveyor belt, prompting you to spring into action. How does your brain make the shift from passively waiting to taking action when ...
Neuroscience 13 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
Neuroscience 14 hours ago | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
In a remote fishing community in Venezuela, a lone fisherman sits on a cliff overlooking the southern Caribbean Sea. This man –– the lookout –– is responsible for directing his comrades on the water, ...
Neuroscience 16 hours ago | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |
An experimental sleeping pill from US drug company Merck is effective at helping people fall and stay asleep, according to reviewers at the US Food and Drug Administration, which could soon approve the new drug.
8 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 0
Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes.
14 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (7) | 0 |
A drug commonly used to treat depression and anxiety may improve a stress-related heart condition in people with stable coronary heart disease, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.
10 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Researchers at USC have found that a class of pharmaceuticals can both prevent and treat Alzheimer's Disease in mice.
11 hours ago | 5 / 5 (6) | 0 |
The gap between life expectancy in patients with a mental illness and the general population has widened since 1985 and efforts to reduce this gap should focus on improving physical health, suggest researchers in a paper ...
7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Children with autism showed significant improvement after six months of simple sensory exercises at home using everyday items such as scents, spoons and sponges, according to UC Irvine neurobiologists.
12 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |