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Information flows through only 20 percent of brain region

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New Delhi: Indian-origin researcher and his team from Indiana University discovered that just like most of the world’s air travel passes a few major hubs, the majority of information in the brain flows through well-traveled routes.

According to the team, 70 percent of all information within cortical regions in the brain passes through only 20 percent of these regions’ neurons.

“The discovery of this small but information-rich subset of neurons within cortical regions suggests this sub-network might play a vital role in communication, learning and memory,” said Sunny Nigam, Ph D candidate in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Physics and lead author on the study.

These high-traffic “hub neurons” could play a vital role in understanding brain health since this sort of highly efficient network is also more vulnerable to disruption.

“The brain seems to favor efficiency over vulnerability,” said John M Beggs, associate professor of biophysics in a paper appeared the journal Neuroscience.

To conduct the study, scientists recorded small electrical impulses from up to 500 neurons from a part of the brain responsible for the sense of touch.

“This is the first study to combine such a large number of neurons with such high temporal resolution,” Nigam added.

The experiments, conducted in live and tissue samples, were based in rodents.

Similar high-traffic zones in the cortex have been shown to exist in more advanced mammals, including primates and adult humans.

Understanding how the brain maintains good “air traffic control” between information-rich and information-poor neurons will be the next step in unraveling the mystery of hub neurons.

“If we ever want to understand how these types of neurons keep information in our heads flowing smoothly, we really need to learn a lot more about how they work together,” Nigam noted.(IANS)

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Novel stroke treatment repairs damaged brain tissue

Researchers have developed a new stem-cell based treatment for stroke that reduces brain damage and accelerates the brain's natural healing tendencies

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The new research can reduce the threat of permanent brain damage considerably.
The new research can reduce the threat of permanent brain damage considerably. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have developed a new stem-cell based treatment for stroke that reduces brain damage and accelerates the brain’s natural healing tendencies.

The treatment called AB126 was developed using extracellular vesicles (EV) — fluid-filled structures known as exosomes — which are generated from human neural stem cells.

“This is truly exciting evidence because exosomes provide a stealth-like characteristic, invisible even to the body’s own defences.

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When packaged with therapeutics, these treatments can actually change cell progression and improve functional recovery,” said Steven Stice, a professor at the University of Georgia in the US who led the research team.

Fully able to cloak itself within the bloodstream, this type of regenerative EV therapy appears to be the most promising in overcoming the limitations of many cells therapies-with the ability for exosomes to carry and deliver multiple doses-as well as the ability to store and administer treatment, the researchers said.

Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added.
Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added. Wikimedia Commons

Small in size, the tiny tubular shape of an exosome allows EV therapy to cross barriers that cells cannot be said the study published in the journal Translational Stroke Research.

Following the administration of AB126, the researchers used MRI scans to measure brain atrophy rates in preclinical, age-matched stroke models, which showed an approximately 35 percent decrease in the size of injury and 50 percent reduction in brain tissue loss.

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“Until now, we had very little evidence specific to neural exosome treatment and the ability to improve motor function. Just days after stroke, we saw better mobility, improved balance and measurable behavioural benefits in treated animal models,” Stice said.

Human clinical trials for the treatment could begin as early as next year, the researchers added. (IANS)

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