Medium spiny neurons, are a kind of inhibitory nerve cell in the brain. These nerve cells progressively degenerate in Huntington's disease: a hereditary disorder of the central nervous system, which erodes the ability to walk, talk and think. The multicoloured bundle here pictured was cultured in the lab from human embryonic stem cells. Proteins called Darpp 32 (dyed red), Ctip2 (dyed green) and Foxp2 (dyed purple) are visualised using laser confocal microscopy. This ‘protein signature’ is the same as that found in cells of the striatum, where damage from Huntington’s disease is initially most obvious. Medical researchers are currently developing new ways of creating medium spiny neurons from stem cells to test their susceptibility to drug therapies, and better understand their development. Being able to make healthy neurons from patients own cells may also provide regenerative treatment options in the future.
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