A tiny marine invertebrate that lives in Venice Lagoon could give new impetus to research into Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s: it’s called a botryl, a relative of vertebrates and has a primitive brain made up of fewer than a thousand neurons like those in a lifetime. man. A study proves it published in the journal Cells by an international research team, coordinated by Lucia Manni of the University of Padua, which includes Stanford University and Milan State University.
The botryl is a very simple organism that grows and reproduces at lower depths in seas such as the Mediterranean Sea and, in particular, in warm, nutrient-rich areas of the Adriatic Sea such as the Venetian Lagoon. The researchers studied it using electron microscopy and gene expression analysis, and discovered that it “naturally undergoes neurodegeneration in ways that could help research in humans to find strategies or drugs to halt serious neurodegenerative diseases,” Mani explains. In particular, botryl neurons exhibit different types of cell death, as occurs in human neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, genes that are critically involved in these diseases are expressed at different stages of the botryl life cycle at times that are quite similar. Significant disease progression.” For example, genes typical of conformational disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are expressed in Bottrill at times reminiscent in humans of the passage of disease from a preclinical stage to the appearance of certain syndromes in “human”.
“These results,” comments Alberto Priori of the University of Milan, co-author of the research, “could open up unprecedented scenarios both in identifying the lowest common denominator among highly disparate human diseases, and in using new approaches other than electrical brain stimulation to prevent and treat neurodegeneration.”
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