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Uni of Oxford Biochemistry Centenary Imaging Competition Conversation Starters

Human dopaminergic neurons generated from stem cells for studying neurodegenerative disease mechanisms

30 May 2023

Conversation Starters

Neurons communicate with chemicals – bursts of neurotransmitters which pass signals from one cell to the next. While the brain’s millions of neurons may look a little chaotic, their chemical chatter is in a fine balance that changes with age and disease. Normally, dopaminergic neurons squirt a neurotransmitter called dopamine into different brain areas, influencing processes such as movement, reward and motivation. Here researchers grow human dopaminergic neurons (highlighted in orange) from stem cells in a dish. With so many important roles in the brain, they investigate how the cells deteriorate in Parkinson’s Disease – specifically, how a toxic chemical called alpha-synuclein (which builds up in Parkinson’s) affects the cultured cells. The next step is to see if new drugs can slow down or stop alpha-synuclein, staving off symptoms.

Written by John Ankers

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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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