AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Updated Brain Cell Map Connects Various Brain Diseases to Specific Cell Types

Researchers have developed new single-cell sequencing methods that could be used to map the cell origins of various brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

By analyzing individual nuclei of cells from adult human brains, researchers at the University of California San Diego, Harvard Medical School and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have identified 35 different subtypes of neurons and glial cells and discovered which of these subtypes are most susceptible to common risk factors for different brain diseases.

“There are multiple theories regarding the roots of various brain diseases. Our findings enable us to narrow down and rank which types of cells in the brain carry the most genetic risk for developing these diseases, which can help drug developers pick better targets in the future,” said Kun Zhang, a professor of bioengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and co-senior author of the study. Zhang is also a member of the Institute of Engineering at UC San Diego.

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