Deficits of differentiation of neural precursor cells in Alzheimer's brains
Scientists have discovered that the brain changes constantly throughout life, generating new neurons and connections. This process, called plasticity, offers a possible mechanism through which the brain might be induced to repair itself after injury or disease. Dr. Shen's research is expanding upon previous studies by isolating neural precursor cells from rapidly autopsied elderly brains with Alzheimer's disease. The location and function of neural precursor cells in the normal aged brains are being compared to those in Alzheimer's brains with the goal of determining how amyloid beta peptide (Aß), a small-sized protein, affects the differentiation of neural precursor cells into neurons. The long-term goal of Dr. Shen's research is to provide an advanced understanding of the foundation of the innate healing capacity of diseased brains and to provide an avenue for physicians to deliver drugs in the future that would stimulate the brain to replace its own cells and thereby rebuild its damaged circuits.