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Helping injured brains heal themselves

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    Helping injured brains heal themselves

    "...Leonardi mentioned having a friend with a deadly disease that kills brain cells. That story inspired Indrani to probe what makes injured brain cells die.When a brain is injured, some of its cells ? called neurons ? can die. Support cells called astrocytes (AS-troh-sites) move in and surround the injured neurons. Those astrocytes should protect the injured cells from further damage. But sometimes, they actually make the situation worse. If they fail to clean up chemical trash from synapses (Sin-AP-sees) ? areas between the injured cells ? the leftover debris can poison the neurons. This can increase their death toll.
    Glutamate (GLU-tah-mayt) is an important molecule that carries signals between brain cells. During injury, though, it can build up outside of neurons, killing them. Clearing it from the synapses might prevent nerve cells from dying, the teen reasoned. So she set out to find a way to do that.
    She focused on a molecule that usually serves as a glutamate-grabbing vacuum. It?s known as EAAT2 (for excitatory amino acid transporter 2). Those glutamate vacuums normally reside on the outside edge of an astrocyte. But when these cells sense a nearby injury, they tuck their EEAT2 structures inside the cell. This lets glutamate build up outside, wreaking havoc.

    Indrani Das (center) describes her research at the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition.
    C. Ayers Photography

    Working in the cell biology lab in her high school, Indrani added a tiny gene to those astrocytes. It produced a molecule that prompted the cells to shift their glutamate vacuums back to the outside of the cells. Now the astrocytes again sucked up glutamate, helping nearby neurons recover.
    Indrani hopes that her research will help scientists focus on astrocytes as a target to fight brain injury and disease. And she?s already contributing in her own way. The teen is an EMT, or emergency medical technician. ?It?s is my favorite activity of all time,? she says...."


    Still can not cure, depressed.


      This is a genius kind of innovation. Let's hope that it's scaled up into something that can help the masses. Brain cell damage is sometimes irreversible and I think that modern technology has the answer to this. This of course should be combined with therapeutic approaches like this, this, and this.
      So, all I'd say for now is that the future belongs to theIndrani's of today. Let's keep thinking and exploring awesome solutions to save the humanity.