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Crayfish found to turn blood into nuerons

Posted by BioCoM Executive Account on August 13, 2014 at 11:40 PM

Not too long ago, it was found that humans can in fact make new neurons within the hippocampus. However, we can only do this with specialized stem cells, while recent studies have found that crayfish can turn blood straight into neurons for use! They use these new cells to resupply their eyestalks and smell circuits which are often exposed to damage.

Crayfish accomplish this feat by utilizing a “nursery” for baby neurons called a niche at the base of the brain. Blood cells move throughout this region on a regular basis and can become “attracted” to the niche where they will then split into two daughter cells. These two cells act as precursors for new neurons as a result.

Once they are precursors, the cells migrate to the area in need of repair. Once there, they finish conversion to new neurons. The niche’s stash of precursor neurons was thought to gradually dry up without being resupplied. However, the opposite happens, suggesting the existence of an unknown source of them.

Crayfish are a long way from humans says Anthony Windebank of the Mayo Clinic’s Regenerative Neurobiology Laboratory. However, he explains that we have learned much from model systems such as the C. elegans, Drosophila, and zebrafish. Therefore, crayfish should be no different.

Scientists have been studying transdifferentiation, turning one cell type into another, in vertebrates but with not too much luck. This is mostly because vertebrates don’t appear to do it naturally. Perhaps the answer lies in invertebrates, like the crayfish, that actually can do it naturally. If we can figure out how, it can have huge implications for regenerative medicine.

Brahic, Catherine. "Brain Regeneration: Crayfish Turn Blood into Neurons." New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd., 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 13 Aug. 2014.

Heaven, Douglas. "Nuclear Bomb Tests Reveal Brain Regeneration in Humans." New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd., 10 June 2013. Web. 13 Aug. 2014.


Categories: Biology News

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