• Fluorescent brain cells created in lab


Fluorescent brain cells created in lab

Dec 02 2011

Scientists have made a discovery which could help to speed up drug development in the future.

During an investigation to gain insight into signal pathways in the brain and how learning new things affects this, researchers at Harvard University created genetically altered neurons that fluoresce as they fire.

To make this happen, the scientists used a Dead Sea microorganism which produces a protein which fluoresces when exposed to electrical signals.

This was then manipulated into a virus which will cause brain cells to undergo the same phenomenon, a move which has repercussions for drug development by illustrating how cells are reacting to treatment.

Adam Cohen, the John L Loeb associate professor of natural sciences at the university, said: "It's very exciting. In terms of basic biology, there are a number of things we can now do which we've never been able to do."

Treatments for genetic conditions as diverse as depression and heart disease could benefit.

Posted by Ben Evans

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