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Study finds evidence that leopard geckos can make new brain cells

Date: 1.8.2018 

University of Guelph researchers have discovered the type of stem cell allowing geckos to create new brain cells, providing evidence that the lizards may also be able to regenerate parts of the brain after injury. 
Kredit: Pop77o7 / Wikimedia Commons.

This finding could help in replacing human brain cells lost or damaged due to injury, aging or disease.

"The brain is a complex organ and there are so few good treatments for brain injury, so this is a very exciting area of research," said Prof. Matthew Vickaryous in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).

"The findings indicate that gecko brains are constantly renewing brain cells, something that humans are notoriously bad at doing," he said.

Published in Scientific Reports, this study is the first to provide evidence of new neuron formation – and the presence of stem cells – in the leopard gecko brain.

"Most regeneration research has looked at zebrafish or salamanders. Our work uses lizards, which are more closely related to mammals than either fish or amphibians," said Rebecca McDonald, a master's student who led the study.

The researchers identified stem cells that regularly produce new brain cells in the medial cortex, an area in the front of the brain that is responsible for social cognition and behaviour. It is also a part of the lizard's brain that has a well-studied counterpart in the human brain – the hippocampus.

 


 

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