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- Researchers analysed over 1.1 million brain cells across 42 distinct brain regions from the minds of three people
- Using the power of artificial intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, the new study has developed a map of the mind
- Scientists have pinpointed 107 different subtypes of brain cells and their relation to neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and major depression
A breakthrough study from the University of California San Diego has identified the influence of brain cells on the development of psychosocial disabilities, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and major depression.
The new research has been able to identify the risk of disease burden in 19 neuropsychiatric traits and disorders through the power of machine learning — ultimately offering an opportunity for more effective approaches to address psychosocial conditions.
Researchers stated that every cell in a human brain contains the same sequence of DNA, but different cell types use different genes and in different amounts. This difference produces many different types of brain cells and contributes to the complexity of how the human mind operates.
Learning how these cell types differ on a smaller scale is critical to understanding how the brain works and developing new ways to treat psychosocial disabilities.
Bing Ren, professor at UC San Diego School of Medicine and senior author of the study, said the brain isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation and each mind can vary.
“It [the human mind] is made up of an enormously complex network of neurons and non-neuronal cells, with each serving different functions,” the professor explained.
“It’s more like a mosaic of different cell types.
“Mapping out the different types of cells in the brain and understanding how they work together will ultimately help us discover new therapies that can target individual cell types relevant to specific diseases.”
Although the new findings are considered medically significant by researchers, the journey to map the mind and develop targeted therapies has only just begun.
UC San Diego joined the Salk Institute and others in 2022, in the hope of studying cells from over a dozen human brains and asking questions about how the brain changes during development, over people’s lifespans and with disease.
“Scaling up our work to an even greater level of detail on a larger number of brains will bring us one step closer to understanding the biology of neuropsychiatric disorders and how it can be rehabilitated,” Ren said.
The economic burden associated with brain disorders in Australia exceeded $74 billion dollars in 2017.
Australia’s ageing population is expected to increase the prevalence of psychosocial disability, further heightening the necessity of targeted therapies for each condition.
Based on the Intergenerational Report 2023, released by the Federal Treasury:
- The number of Australians aged 65 and over will more than double by 2063
- The number of people aged 85 and over will more than triple
- The number of centenarians is expected to increase six-fold
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