The brain is the body’s most important organ, but also the most complex. This complexity has hindered treatment for many diseases. However, advances in neuroscience may change the situation. The brain, our central and peripheral nervous systems are our command centers. By applying treatments and novel solutions to the command centers of our bodies, therapeutic interventions could work much more effectively and rapidly.
Once a person reaches maturity, their neurons, the cells that make up the brain and nervous system, stop dividing. Neurons are long-lived, so this is usually not a problem. However, damage to nerve cells does not heal and can leave a person paralyzed for life, such as actor Christopher Reeves. Research into neurogenesis, the process of coaxing neurons to divide again, could find a cure to restore those with nervous system injuries to full health.
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals by which the cells of the brain and nervous system communicate with each other. They are the chemicals that we use to think, to feel and to control our own bodies. Many diseases, such as Parkinson’s, appear to be caused by a dysfunction of neurotransmitters. Creating our own synthetic neurotransmitters would allow the development of treatments for these diseases.