Neurons regrow connections in lab, challenging conventional dogma about mammalian brain

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Researchers at Stanford University have coaxed brain cells involved in vision to regrow and make functional connections—helping to upend the conventional dogma that mammalian brain cells, once damaged, can never be restored. The work…suggests that human maladies including glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease and spinal cord injuries might be more repairable than has long been believed.

“The brain is very good at coping with deprived inputs,” says Andrew Huberman, the Stanford neurobiologist who led the work. “The study also supports the idea that we may not need to regenerate every neuron in a system to get meaningful recovery.”

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The researchers used genetic manipulation to [trigger this regeneration]—activating the so-called “mammalian target of rapamycin” (mTOR) signaling pathway, which helps stimulate growth—and then they exercised the damaged eye[.] “When we combined those two—molecular chicanery with electrical activity—we saw this incredible synergistic effect,” Huberman says.

Huberman says he hopes the work can be useful within a few years to help people with early-stage glaucoma avoid the degeneration that leads to blindness.

Read full, original post: Regrown Brain Cells Give Blind Mice a New View

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