May 27


New chemical probe for visualizing brain immune cells

By Margaret

Some researchers in South Korea and Singapore have jointly developed a way to do live imaging of a type of immune cells in the brain called microglia while the brain cells are still live and functioning. This technique will help scientists to understand diseases that affect the brain such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and autism. It is known that the primary immune cells that one can find in the brain are the microglia. They have recently been shown that they have important roles to play in the development of neurological diseases although these cells have been known for centuries. These discoveries were made possible by technical ways of imaging these cells using light microscopy. However, it has been extremely difficult for scientists to be able to study how microglia function in human and animal cells. But this ability to study microglia function can aid scientists to understand brain development and the development of diseases of the brain. It must be noted that the challenge has been to study the functions of these cells in a live brain and not in preserved specimens as was usually the case. That is why this collaborative study by the scientists in South Korea and Singapore is highly significant.

Key Takeaways:

  • Some scientists in Asia, especially Singapore, have developed techniques that would enable them to take live images of microglia in live animal brain.
  • This technique will be used in studies to help scientists to understand how diseases like Alzheimer’s, stroke, and parkinson’s disease develop in humans.
  • Although prior to now several studies exist that have studied microglia and how they work, but none has been able to study it in live brains as this study.

“Although microglia were described a century ago, these cells have only recently been found to play an important role in the development of various neurological diseases.”

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