A Tantalizing Breakthrough.
Your dyin' eyes.
1. For a human, one of the first signs someone is getting old is the inability to remember little things; maybe they misplace their keys, or get lost on an oft-taken route. For a laboratory mouse, it’s forgetting that when bright lights and a high-pitched buzz flood your cage, an electric zap to the foot quickly follows. But researchers at Stanford University discovered that if you transfuse cerebrospinal fluid from a young mouse into an old one, it will recover its former powers of recall and freeze in anticipation. They also identified a protein in that cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, that penetrates into the hippocampus, where it drives improvements in memory. The tantalizing breakthrough, published yesterday in Nature, suggests that youthful factors circulating in the CSF, or drugs that target the same pathways, might be tapped to slow the cognitive declines of old age. Perhaps even more important, it shows for the first time the potential of CSF as a vehicle to get therapeutics for neurological diseases into the hard-to-reach fissures of the human brain. (Source: statnews.com, nytimes.com)
2. Dead eyes from organ donors have been “brought back to life” in a breakthrough which hints that brain death may be reversible. Scientists in the US proved that photosensitive neuron cells in the retina can still respond to light and communicate with each other up to five hours after death, sending signals “resembling those recorded from living subjects”. Crucially these neurons form part of the central nervous system (CNS), which encompasses the brain and spinal cord, bringing the possibility that other cells in the CNS could be similarly restored, perhaps bringing back consciousness. Writing in the journal Nature, the authors said that the study “raises the question of whether brain death, as it is currently defined, is truly irreversible.” (Source: telegraph.co.uk, nature.com)
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