Cells behave differently when removed from their environments, just as cells that develop in cultures do not behave like cells in living creatures. To study the effects of Alzheimer’s disease in a more natural environment, scientists from the lab of professor Bart De Strooper (VIB-KU Leuven, Dementia Research Institute-UK) in collaboration with scientists from ULB (profs Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Jean-Pierre Brion) successfully circumscribed this challenge by transplanting human neural cells into mouse brains containing amyloid plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. The results of their research showed that, unlike mouse neurons, human neurons that developed in this environment were extremely susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. Their high-impact results are published in leading academic journal Neuron.
The study of the development of Alzheimer’s disease on a molecular level presents unique challenges, as neurons behave differently in vivo vs. in vitro. Using mice as models presents useful insights, but mouse models never fully develop the disease, despite the fact that their brains and neurons share many similarities with those of humans. Read more.
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