Mar 26, 2009

Scientists create 'artificial brain' to help fight Alzheimer's

Scientists have created an "artificial brain" they believe could help them discover a cure for diseases like Alzheimer's.

Researchers at Aston University in Birmingham took cells from a cancerous tumour and "reprogrammed" them to create those identical to the human nervous system.

Scientists say that the development could mean that a breakthough in conditions such as dementia and Parkinson's Disease has been brought closer.

Prof Michael Coleman, who led the research, funded by the Humane Research Trust, which advocates alternatives to animal testing, said: "What we have developed is effectively an artificial brain capable of processing thought at the most basic level.
"It is incredibly exciting.
"It is closer to the human brain than anything else around.

"In the longer term we hope that our procedure can be used to help us understand how conditions such as Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases develop and ultimately find a cure and develop better drugs."
He added: "Cells have to be alive and operating efficiently to enable us to really understand how the brain works.

"What we've made is the most basic unit of the human brain. They're processing, they're connecting, they're communicating."

To keep the cells alive, researchers feed them every two days by injecting them with nutrients and minerals.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "It is still very early days, but in the future this interesting research could lead to a useful tool for investigating dementia.

"The scientists produced balls of cells modelling those normally present in the brain.
"This 'cellular model' could act as a useful research tool to understand how the brain functions."

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Bob DeMarco
Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized Influencer, speaker, and expert in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community Worldwide. The Alzheimer's Reading Knowledge Base contains more than 4,000 articles, and the ARR has more than 343,000 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
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