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Healing brain damage in zebrafish


Researchers have shown how proteins can stop scars forming in the brain, helping our understanding of how to regenerate tissue for people with brain injury.


In a study on zebrafish, led by the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU), in Munich, Germany, scientists activated existing immune cells in the brain called microglia, to study their effects - microglia are key to forming scar tissue.


Although scars are important for separating the healthy and injured parts of the brain, in the long term they can prevent new neurons from integrating into the brain circuitry.


The group found that two proteins, granulin and TDP-43, helped to reduce the activity of the microglia and therefore prevent scarring and aid in tissue regeneration. They also saw that this was also the case in brain tissue taken from people who had died of brain injury.


Professor Jovica Ninkovic, at LMU, said of the study published in Nature Neuroscience: “The idea was to tease out the differences between zebrafish and mammals so as to understand which signalling pathways in the human brain inhibit regeneration – and how we might be able to intervene.”


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