—Jeremy Nathans, professor of molecular biology and genetics, neuroscience, and ophthalmology, explaining his team’s successful effort to plot the labyrinthine paths of some of the largest nerve cells in the mammalian brain: cholinergic neurons, the first cells to degenerate in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Each of these cells is like a city connected to its suburbs by a single, one-lane road, with all of the emergency services located only in the city,” says Nathans. “You can imagine how hard it would be in a crisis if all of the emergency vehicles had to get to the suburbs along that one road. We think something like this might be happening when cholinergic neurons are trying to repair the damage done by Alzheimer’s disease.”
A summary of the research was published online in the journal eLife on May 7.