We are rapidly demystifying cancers, exposing the molecular mechanisms underlying tumors and leading the search for the next generation of targeted cancer therapies. We see a future where every cancer and every patient has a cure.

Ensuring good cellular connections in the brain

Astrocytes are brain cells that, among other things, help neurons form active connections with each other. The exact mechanism behind this process has been a mystery. Scientists in Nicola Allen’s lab have begun to uncover more about these important cells. Allen and first author Isabella Farhy-Tselnicker discovered that astrocytes initiate communication between pairs of neurons by prompting specific changes in neurons through a protein called glypican 4. This protein influences both sending and receiving neurons, helping them make synaptic connections. It may be a target for better understanding neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, ADHD and schizophrenia, all of which may result at least partially from faulty communication between neurons. The work was published in Neuron on October 11, 2017.

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