Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Transforming brain research with jellyfish genes and advances in microscopy

30.10.2002


Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are transplanting jellyfish genes into mice to watch how neural connections change in the brains of entire living animals. The development represents the merging of several technologies and enable researchers to watch changes inside living animals during normal development and during disease progression in a relatively non-invasive way.

"This work represents a new approach to studying the biology of whole, living animals," says Jeff W. Lichtman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of anatomy and neurobiology. "I believe these methods will transform not only neurobiology, but also immunology and studies of organs such as the kidney, liver, and lung."

Lichtman presented the work at the 40th annual New Horizons in Science Briefing, sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, held Oct. 27-30 at Washington University in St. Louis.



"The experiences we have in the world somehow shape our brains," says Lichtman. "How this information is encoded in our nervous systems is one of the deep, fundamental questions of neurobiology."

To help answer that question, Lichtman, together with Joshua R. Sanes, Ph.D., Alumni Endowed Professor of Neurobiology, and other colleagues at the School of Medicine, have developed strains of mice with nerve tracts stained by up to four different fluorescent jellyfish proteins, each of which glows with a different color when exposed to the correct energy of light. Using an advanced technology such as low-light-level digital imaging, confocal microscopy and two-photon microscopy, the investigators can observe over time nerve cells and the synapses that interconnect them within the brain.

Two-photon microscopy uses a powerful infrared laser that can selectively stimulate the fluorescent proteins within the nerve cells deep within the brain to glow. This approach permits imaging the brain without having to penetrate the skull. Computerized techniques then produce three-dimensional images of neural connections in the living animal, enabling the researchers to watch how patterns of connections between neurons change during learning and development.

The researchers’ studies are providing fascinating clues about how learning occurs in the brain. For example, it seems that nerve cells in the brain begin with many connections to other nerve cells. With time, many of these connections are eliminated shortly after birth.

"The brain begins with many diffuse and unspecialized sets of connections, and then sort of sculpts out subsets of those connections to serve particular functions," says Lichtman. "In essence, it seems that as we improve at some things, we lose our ability for other things."

Questions

Contact: Darrell E. Ward, assc. director for research communications, Washington University School of Medicine, (314) 286-0122; wardd@msnotes.wustl.edu

Darrell Ward | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://news-info.wustl.edu/News/casw/lichtman.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>