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The way to a 'fresher' brai

时间:2006-05-16 22:18来源:ansa.it 作者:admin 阅读:
[foto] Italian scientists find a treatment that works on rats (ANSA) - Florence, May 16 - Italian researchers working with rats have discovered a treatment for weak vision that could be developed into a way of rejuvenating the human brain .

The treatment works by deliberately weakening the skeleton-like structures of brain cells, softening them so they acquire the flexibility they had when the cerebral cortex was young .

Scientists believe it should be possible to render the relatively rigid brain structure of an adult human as fresh and supple as that of a newborn baby .

For the moment the treatment has been applied only on rats and only in the visual cortex, the area of the brain which handles sight .

"Naturally there are difficulties when it comes to applying these results to humans, but the outlook seems promising," said the research team .

The group comprised experts from the University of Florence's psychology department, the 'Scuola Normale' in Pisa and the Institute of Neuroscience, also in Pisa .

The results of the experiments have just been published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The treatment which worked on rats used a bacterial enzyme called Chondroitinase ABC, which weaken the complex chains of molecules that form the matrix of brain cells .

The Italian researchers injected Chondroitinase into the visual cortex of rats with poor vision in one eye .

Until now it has been widely accepted that this sort of problem can only be corrected when the animal, or human, is young. This is because the brain neurons controlling vision 'stiffen up' with the years and what was once a reversible situation becomes irreversible .

"Our experiment proves the contrary: in adult animals, after the visual cortex has been treated with Chondroitinase ABC, vision becomes normal again," the researchers said. What this means, they argue, is that the enzyme rejuventates the brain cells in such a way that they become flexible enough to reactivate functions that have fallen into disuse .

The Italian team is convinced that this approach could eventually contribute to strategies for slowing down aging in the human brain .
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