Fruit fly brain study confirms complexity of neurodevelopment

Drosophila melanoFor years, two schools of thought have dominated neurobiologists’ theories about how early nerve cells develop specialties that allow the assembly of a mature brain. One theory suggests master regulators trigger the development, while the other attributes the development to interactions between local factors. In a new study of developing fruit fly brain cells, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine and Harvard University showed that both models are valid.

Fruit fly brain study confirms complexity of neurodevelopment

Drosophila melanoFor years, two schools of thought have dominated neurobiologists’ theories about how early nerve cells develop specialties that allow the assembly of a mature brain. One theory suggests master regulators trigger the development, while the other attributes the development to interactions between local factors. In a new study of developing fruit fly brain cells, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine and Harvard University showed that both models are valid.

Natural mechanism in brain cells may resist stroke damage

In this micrograph of a neuron, green dye highlights proteins linked to nerve cell damage and death during stroke.Brain cells in danger of exciting other nearby brain cells to death may be able to close temporarily, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Scientists simulated stroke-like conditions in cultured rat brain cells that use glutamate, an excitatory chemical messenger linked to nerve damage and death during strokes. But when they created those conditions, the researchers found that glutamate transmission was suppressed in what may be an attempt by neurons to limit the damage caused by catastrophic events such as strokes.