05 October 2009

Somewhere in North Carolina, Mutant Mice Are Growing Brains With 3 Times the Brain Cells

Researchers at UNC Chapel Hill have engineered a strain of mice whose brain stem cells don't know when to stop dividing, differentiate, and mature. The brains do not stop growing, because they never receive the signal. The GSK-3 gene -- glycogen synthase kinase 3 -- has been "knocked out" of the mouse genome, and cannot supply the GSK3 protein.
“It was really quite striking,” said Snider. “Without GSK-3, these neural stem cells just keep dividing and dividing and dividing. The entire developing brain fills up with these neural stem cells that never turn into mature neurons.”

GSK-3 is known to coordinate signals for proliferation and differentiation within nerve cells through multiple “signaling pathways.” Thus, the researchers looked to see what effect deleting the molecule had on some of these pathways. They found that every one of the pathways that they studied went awry.

Snider and his colleagues now want to see if adding GSK-3 back to their genetically engineered mice can convert the proliferating stem cells into neurons, possibly resulting in three to four times as many neurons in the mutants as normal.

“I find that quite interesting because I can’t think of any other manipulation that potentially would enable you to simply dial up and down the number of neurons that are generated in the brain,” said Snider. _SD
Why would scientists want to know how to "simply dial up and down the number of neurons that are generated in the brain?" An interesting question. Let me ask you another one: Why would scientists want to engineer mice that could dance all night and never get tired? I tell you, friends, scientists are very strange when it comes to their mice.

There is a direct correlation between brain size and intelligence, for healthy animals within the same species. Perhaps one could grow a more intelligent animal, if it could design healthy animals with more functioning brain neurons?


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Blogger Loren said...

You ever read "Flowers for Algernon?"

Monday, 05 October, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

Yes, it's a favourite.

Tuesday, 06 October, 2009  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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