Human astrocytes injected into mice improve learning.
March 30, 2013 5:39 AM   Subscribe

As reported at SingularityHUB human astrocytes were engrafted into neonatal mice. The study found that the human glial cells which were once thought of as filler cells for the brain "differentially enhance both activity-dependent plasticity and learning in mice."
posted by saber_taylor (11 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Mouse astrocytes injected into humans increase the desire for cheese.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:43 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is neat. It always makes me laugh to think of the hubris required to call something in the body "junk dna" or "filler cells". It is obvious that in the not-so-distant future we will figure out how central these are to the functioning of the larger system.
posted by jmccw at 5:46 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?
posted by Curious Artificer at 5:48 AM on March 30, 2013 [16 favorites]

I, for one, welcome our new rodent overlords.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:05 AM on March 30, 2013

Mrs. Frisby will need to move her house to the lee of the stone.
posted by smoothvirus at 6:23 AM on March 30, 2013 [12 favorites]

Human brain cells in mice? Well, I hope at least one of the scientists had the good sense to name one of the mice Algernon...
posted by Skwirl at 6:28 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Engrafted? That's unpossible!
posted by petebest at 7:51 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Faint of Butt: "Mouse astrocytes injected into humans increase the desire for cheese."

And the urge to hide in small space, which, when combined with the urge to eat cheese, will only end in tragedy...


shakes fist at the sky

Seriously though, extremely cool.
posted by Samizdata at 8:07 AM on March 30, 2013

This explains so much about me.
posted by Nomyte at 10:04 AM on March 30, 2013

"That's the thing about human life: there is no control group, no way to ever know how any of us would have turned out if any variables had been changed."
- Daniel Keyes, Flowers for Algernon
posted by Smedleyman at 1:02 PM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

That "filler" comment is unfair. Virchow might have thought that 150 years ago, but the central role for glial cells in synaptogenesis has been very well established. This seminal paper, for example is over 10 years old.

That's not to say that this work is unworthy. Its quite remarkable. I have always presumed that the man vs. mouse differences was due primarily to differences in the size and structure of the brain, not something that could be distinguished at the cellular level. This work has clear implications for the future of "smart drugs".
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:21 AM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

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