A $126 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help map the brain and study diseases like Alzheimer’s

  • There are still a lot of scientists do not know about the human brain.
  • The Salk Institute recently launched the Center for a Polyatomic Human Brain Cell Atlas to understand how brain cells function and change as we age.
  • Experts hope the new center’s findings will help create potential treatments for brain-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

For such an important organ of the body, there is still a lot that we do not know about the human brain. While we may understand what Different regions of the brain Do, much is still unknown about how it works 86 billion Neurons in the brain communicate with each other. Researchers are still working to uncover how the brain changes through neurological disorders.

Now researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, hope to increase our knowledge of the brain by launching the Center for Atlas of Human Polyatomic Brain Cells.

The center’s researchers plan to better understand how the files work individual cells The functioning of the brain and how it changes as the body ages. They also hope to use their work to devise potential treatments for brain-related diseases.

The new center of the polyatomic human brain cell atlas is said to be part of Brain Initiative at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is funded by a five-year grant of $126 million from the National Institutes of Health.

The center’s work is based on a five-year project called Brain Initiative Cell Count Network It aims to map all the cells in the mouse brain and how they work together.

“Similar to how we learned about space travel from short trips to the Moon, the Mouse Brain Mapping Project has taught us a lot about how to approach a much larger brain and the kinds of genomic information we need to be able to map a real one,” explains Dr. Joseph Ecker, Director of the Analysis Lab. Genomics at the Salk Institute, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and head of the new “Human Brain” Center.

“This project is an example of how productive teamwork can be in science – these types of projects can’t be done in one lab,” said Dr. Ecker.

The center’s researchers will study 1,500 brain samples from 50 regions of 30 human brains of different ages. From every cell in every brain region, scientists plan to isolate every cell nucleus The part of the cell that contains the genetic material of the cell. The researchers will also record the molecular details of each cell, including Chromatin architecture – 3D Structure from the cell chromosomes – And the DNA methylationor how a cell’s DNA functions when a particular chemical tag is added to it.

Today’s Medical News spoke with Dr.. David W DudekProfessor Emeritus, Distinguished Investigator, Distinguished Instructor at Mayo Clinic, President of the American Brain Foundation, and Co-Chair of the Atria Academy of Sciences and Medicine, on the new research project.

“This collaborative, interdisciplinary research will use some of the most advanced methods to identify the molecular signature of each brain cell and promise to unlock the secrets of how the brain ages, as well as how changes over time are produced in the genetic material and proteins that lead to disease,” said Dr. Dudek. This knowledge develops strategies and therapies that prevent, treat, and cure brain diseases.”

For its research, it is reported that the center will focus primarily on Epigenetics. Epigenetics, which means “in addition to changes in the genetic sequence,” studies any process that changes the activity of a gene without a physical change to the DNA.

As discussed above, DNA methylation is an example of an epigenetic change. Epigenetic changes occur throughout a person’s life due to certain environmental changes or behaviors, such as physical activity and diet. Your genes can also change due to aging and certain diseases such as cancer and infections.

“Essentially, we want to take millions, even hundreds of millions of brain cells, and learn everything we can about their epigenetics and how Chromatin They are arranged and displayed in a spatial context so that we can see where these cells live and understand how all cells in any brain region are organized, and at what age,” Ecker said. “

according to Dr. Santosh KesariJohn’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., and regional medical director of the Clinical Research Institute in Providence Southern California, where the study of epigenetics provides a broader avenue of research gene expression The process of “turning on” our genes for production RNA And the cellular proteins or “off” to serve a different function.

“It is a more complex analysis because it gives us a global view,” he explained to MNT. “It tells you which genes are turned on, which genes are turned off, and at what level. And then we can use that to see which genes might be associated with diseases. And it really gives us right away ideas about how to affect the disease by modifying certain genes.”

By better understanding how all cells in the brain function, the center’s researchers plan to use this information to create a baseline that scientists can use to compare brains with neuropsychiatric disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, autism, depression, and traumatic brain injury. .

“The map of the brain that we are developing can help point disease researchers in the right direction — for example, we could say ‘This is an area of genomein that specific subset of neurons, in that part of the brain where a molecular event goes awry to cause this disease,” explains Ecker. “Ultimately, this information may help us design gene therapies that target only the groups of cells that need treatment. Getting the right genes to the right place at the right time.

Dr Kesari added: “We’ve understood the disorders to some extent through imaging and a thorough analysis of brains or regions of the brain, but I think we’ll learn more.” “The truth is that there are many different types of cells in the brain. In the area of ​​injury or in the area of Alzheimer’s disease panelWhat happens in that microenvironment and how these cells (contribute to) pathogenesis is unknown. But now (if) you can study each cell individually, so you may get very unexpected insights and lead to better treatment options and ideas. “