NWPF

News ArchivesRead News

Brains of Sea Animals Could Help Cure Neural Disorders

Wednesday May 21, 2014

Barbara Liston

Reuters - A Florida scientist studying simple sea animals called comb jellies has found the road map to a new form of brain development that could lead to treatments for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.

"There is more than one way to make a brain," University of Florida researcher Leonid Moroz, who led an international research team, told Reuters.

Moroz said his research, published on Wednesday in a report in the magazine Nature, also places comb jelly-like creatures on the first branch of the animal kingdom's "tree of life," replacing and bumping up sponge-like species from the bottom rung of evolutionary progression.

Moroz said that finding should lead to a reclassification of the animal kingdom's "tree of life" and reshape two centuries of zoological thought.

Comb jellies are different from common jellyfish.

Moroz said his team found that comb jellies' molecular makeup and the way they developed was radically different - although still complex - from all other animals, involving different genes and neural transmitters. 

Traditional scientific reasoning has held that simple nerve nets evolved all the way up to a human level of complexity along a single path. But it now appears that comb jellies took a different route, using neurochemical language that does not exist in other animals.

"All other animals have the same chemical language and these guys have completely different language. It's not only different grammar. It's a different alphabet," Moroz said.

Comb jellies, for example, don't use dopamine, implicated in Parkinson's disease, to control brain activity. They also can regenerate their brains in less than four days. In one experiment, a comb jelly regenerated its brain four times.

"Now we know we can construct neural systems differently," Moroz said.

Moroz said degenerative brain diseases typically can be treated to stall progression but not reversed.

Discovering the key to regeneration, or appropriating the comb jellies' different chemical languages, could lead to advancements in synthetic and regenerative medicine, he said.

Liston, Barbara. (21 May 2014). Reuters. Brains of Sea Animals Could Help Cure Neural Disorders. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/21/us-usa-nature-combjellies-idUSKBN0E123O20140521

Recent News

Aug 24 - Study Details Process Involved in Parkinson’s Disease
Aug 20 - Two proteins work together to help cells eliminate trash; Parkinson's may result
Aug 17 - Scientists visualize critical part of basal ganglia pathways
Aug 17 - VA benefits office seeks all vets exposed to Agent Orange
Aug 12 - New, rapid dementia screening tool rivals 'gold standard' clinical evaluations
Aug 11 - Strolling in Seaside, fighting Parkinson's
Aug 11 - Scientists probing molecular origins of Parkinson's disease highlight two proteins
Aug 11 - Could Chocolate Help To Ease Parkinson’s Disease?
Aug 10 - Take 2: Why Seattle should try to replicate Spokane’s 3-on-3 Hoopfest success
Aug 10 - Book Review: A voyage into Parkinson’s disease, led by patient and journalist
Aug 10 - Parkinson's could be slowed with existing drug
Aug 7 - Opinion: Why modern life is making dementia in your 40s more likely
Aug 3 - Software Turns Smartphones into Tools for Medical Research
Jul 31 - Innovative Technology Using Dragonflies Might Offer Insights Into Human Brain Function
Jul 27 - Low-dose lithium reduces side effects from most common treatment for Parkinson's disease
Jul 27 - Opinion: Parkinson's disease creating class of workers who fear for their jobs: PennLive letters
Jul 22 - Parkinson's: Diabetes drug may offer clue to treatment
Jul 19 - Alzheimer's Drugs in the Works Might Treat Other Diseases, Too
Jul 17 - Parkinson's disease may be treatable with antimalaria drugs
Jul 16 - Virtual research studies feasible