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New Nerves Please

Looking at growth of new nerve cells in the zebrafish brain – insight for treating Alzheimer's

20 February 2020

New Nerves Please

Alzheimer’s disease is a fatal condition caused by the unstoppable death of nerve cells in the brain. Although current treatments can relieve the symptoms of the disease or slow its progress, there’s nothing that can stop or reverse the decline. Rather than trying to prevent nerve cell death, one controversial idea for treating Alzheimer’s involves producing new brain cells to replace those that have died. But it’s not clear whether this is technically possible, or whether generating new brain cells might cause more problems than it solves. In search of answers, scientists are studying zebrafish, whose simple brains are surprisingly similar to our own. These images show nerve cells (green) in the brain of a healthy fish (left) and animals that have been treated with various molecules. Two chemicals stimulate new cell production (pink spots, centre panels) while the third (right) does not, providing a useful model for further studies.

Written by Kat Arney

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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