A scientist, Nathaniel Heintz, suggests that neurons from a mouse are similar to those of a humans: as far as shape and size. However, the similarity may be hiding the true difference in function. In order to test this, Heintz and his team used "cell-specific antibodies to purify nuclei (of particular brain cells) to analyze which genes they expressed." The researchers discovered that human neurons expressed many genes and the mouse did not. "The genes that a neuron expresses determine how the cell responds to stimuli, how it is affected by disease, and how it reacts to medications," the researchers concluded.
An extension to this study, on the expression of genes over a lifetime, showed that "older neurons express genes in different proportions than younger (genes)." In other words, it is possible that older cells are "more vulnerable to disease." Aging is just one of the factor that affects gene expression, but it is a stepping stone to knowing more about diseases in specific, specialized cells in the brain.
This is great research in the field of neurology, neuroscience, and brain diseases. Knowing the root of a potential life-threatening brain disease comes from, molecularly, could be great information to have for researchers and doctors.
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