Study tracks 'traffic jams' on brain-cell highways

Apr 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The highways that Simon Fraser University biologist Michael Silverman studies aren't found on any Google map. They're the microscopic transport pathways that allow 'goods and services" to travel inside brain cells, called neurons. But it isn’t always a smooth ride.

Silverman and his cellular neuroscience research team are investigating how disruptions along these cellular highways may play a critical role in the development of Alzheimer’s and other .

“Just as a city depends on the proper function of roads, vehicles, and traffic signals, inside the cell there’s a network of tracks with molecular capable of moving cargo essential for life,” explains Silverman.

“Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases are very complex disorders, yet one view holds that a crippling of the transport system leads to the deterioration of neurons.”

Silverman’s lab uses sophisticated microscopy techniques to make movies of cargo molecules trafficking inside of living neurons. Then by duplicating disease conditions in the lab’s brain-cell culture model, researchers are able to assess how transport is disrupted.

By understanding the faulty signals caused by Alzheimer’s disease, his team hopes to design strategies to keep cellular cargo on the move and help neurons to stay alive longer.

Silverman is part of a diverse group of academics at SFU - from fields as wide-ranging as biology, psychology, kinesiology, health sciences, and engineering science - whose teaching and research are focused on the field of neuroscience.

The research is funded by a four-year $480,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

Explore further: Making waves with groundbreaking brain research

Related Stories

Protein is linked to functional development of brain neurons

Jun 18, 2007

Rockefeller University investigators say that a molecule that helps transport cargo inside nerve cells may have another, critically important, role related to how developing neurons sprout the projections that relay electrical ...

Researchers hot on the trail of brain cell degeneration

Mar 19, 2007

A research team headed by Academy Research Fellow Michael Courtney has identified a new molecular pathway in neurons. The pathway is a factor in the degeneration of brain cells, which in turn plays an important role in neurological ...

Recommended for you

Making waves with groundbreaking brain research

16 hours ago

New research by Jason Gallivan and Randy Flanagan suggests that when deciding which of several possible actions to perform, the human brain plans multiple actions simultaneously prior to selecting one of ...

Long-term memories are maintained by prion-like proteins

Jul 02, 2015

Research from Eric Kandel's lab at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has uncovered further evidence of a system in the brain that persistently maintains memories for long periods of time. And paradoxically, ...

Water to understand the brain

Jul 02, 2015

To observe the brain in action, scientists and physicians use imaging techniques, among which functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is the best known. These techniques are not based on direct observations ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.