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New Cells Found in Old Brains

April 10
16:16 2018

Image result for the brain

When I was in graduate school, we were taught in our human anatomy class that once a person reaches maturity, the brain stops producing new brain cells. This ‘fact’ was used to argue against heavy drinking since it’s a known fact that excessive amounts of alcohol kill brain cells. Looking around the country today, it seems that most people can’t afford to lose anymore brain cells.

We were also taught that nerve cells throughout the body don’t repair once they are damaged. This is why so many neck and spine injuries are so dangerous and serious. If the spinal cord is damaged, it often results in some form of paralysis or other physical impairments.

My dad had his lower spine damaged in an auto accident when a 20-year-old ran a red light and hit dad broadside. Over time, the damage to his lower spine affected his bowels and legs. Before he died of old age, the calves on both of his legs had atrophied to the point that he couldn’t walk. His calf muscles looked smaller than his forearms.

The daughter of a former pastor of ours was in an auto accident and suffered a severe bruise to her neck, leaving her largely paralyzed. She has managed to regain partial use of one arm and hand, but years later she is still confined to a wheelchair because the damage to her spinal cord has not healed.

Since then, I’ve seen some reports that researchers have been able to get some nerve cells to mend back together, giving us hope for the pastor’s daughter.

They also tell us that as we age, we tend to lose brain cells, which can lead to a number of conditions, both physical and/or mental.

With a new discovery, perhaps some of these age-related issues involving brain cells can be reversed or prevented:

“Your brain keeps making new nerve cells, even as you get older.”

“That’s a big deal…”

“‘When I went to medical school, they used to teach us that the brain stops making new cells,’ said lead study author Dr. Maura Boldrini, a neurobiologist at Columbia University.”

The discovery was made while studying the 28 brains that had been donated to science. The donors ranged in age from 14 to 79 and the researchers know a lot about them and their health history. In studying the brains, they found just as many newly formed and not yet matured brain cells in the brains of the older individuals as in the younger brains.

However, they noted that the older brains were growing fewer new blood vessels and they weren’t forming new connections between the brain cells. With the new discovery, researchers may try to find ways to get the new brain cells to connect with others and if that’s possible, then perhaps it could lead to treatment or cures for a number of brain-related diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

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