You are viewing AANS Neurosurgeon Volume 28, Number 1, 2019. View our current issue, Volume 28, Number 3, 2019

AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 1, 2019

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Researchers Repair Faulty Brain Circuits Using Nanotechnology

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Working with mouse and human tissue, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report new evidence that a protein pumped out of some — but not all — populations of “helper” cells in the brain, called astrocytes, plays a specific role in directing the formation of connections among neurons needed for learning and forming new memories.

Using mice genetically engineered and bred with fewer such connections, the researchers conducted proof-of-concept experiments that show they could deliver corrective proteins via nanoparticles to replace the missing protein needed for “road repairs” on the defective neural highway.

Since such connective networks are lost or damaged by neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or certain types of intellectual disability, such as Norrie disease, the researchers say their findings advance efforts to regrow and repair the networks and potentially restore normal brain function.

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