Jun 15, 2023

New images capture unseen details of the synapse

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, neuroscience

Scientists have created one of the most detailed 3D images of the synapse, the important juncture where neurons communicate with each other through an exchange of chemical signals. These nanometer-scale models will help scientists better understand and study neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s disease and schizophrenia.

The new study appears in the journal PNAS and was authored by a team led by Steve Goldman, MD, Ph.D., co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester and the University of Copenhagen. The findings represent a significant technical achievement that allows researchers to study the different cells that converge at individual synapses at a level of detail not previously achievable.

“It is one thing to understand the structure of the synapse from the literature, but it is another to see the precise geometry of interactions between with your own eyes,” said Abdellatif Benraiss, Ph.D., a research associate professor in the Center for Translational Neuromedicine and co-author of the study. “The ability to measure these extremely small environments is a young field, and holds the potential to advance our understanding of a number of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases in which synaptic function is disturbed.”

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