Physical activity is known to improve memory, and studies suggest it may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. But researchers don't understand why. A few years ago, exercise researchers discovered a hormone called irisin that is released into the circulation during physical activity. Initial studies suggested that irisin mainly played a role in energy metabolism. But newer research found that the hormone may also promote neuronal growth in the brain's hippocampus, a region critical for learning and memory.Finding the hormone that turns on the neuron-makers is a BIG step. Could lead to a memory-boosting treatment for people who can't or won't exercise. = = = = = A separate study suggests a completely new way of creating neurons in all parts of the brain. This is speculative, not definite. Astrocytes are the brain's janitorial service. They clean up dead or inactive neurons and repair myelin.
"We identified the most efficient chemical formula among the hundreds of drug combinations that we tested," said Jiu-Chao Yin, a graduate student in biology at Pen State who identified the ideal combination of small molecules. "By using four molecules that modulate four critical signaling pathways in human astrocytes, we can efficiently turn human astrocytes--as many as 70 percent -- into functional neurons." The resulting chemically converted neurons can survive more than seven months in a culture dish in the lab. They form robust neural networks and send chemical and electrical signals to each other, as normal neurons do inside the brain.This seems to be purely in vitro at the moment, but it could lead to one important change. If astrocytes can be converted to fully functioning neurons by chemicals, stem cells are unnecessary; and thus the satanic market for aborted babies would disappear.
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