Alzheimer’s and autism: research shows way to study brain using bioluminescence imaging

Research published in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology demonstrates a new tool for scientists studying conditions such as autism is Alzheimer’s disease. His scientists Promega R&Da life sciences company based in Madison, United States, along with researchers from Stanford University School of Medicinepublished on Thursday, 9, an article describing the development of cephalofurimazine, a new substrate for NanoLuc Luciferase, which allows researchers to study the brain using bioluminescence.

Bioluminescence imaging allows non-invasive imaging of cells and biochemical events in vivo and therefore has become an indispensable technique in biomedical research. However, the BLI Central Nervous System remains a challenge because luciferases – enzymes that catalyze biological reactions by converting chemical energy into light energy – perform relatively poorly in the brain with existing substrates.

The new study marks a major technological advance for research into complex neurological diseases and potential treatments. Photo: Robina Weermeijer/Unsplash

In this way, the new study marks an important technological advance for research into complex neurological diseases and potential treatments. “This will be a very important tool for scientists studying developmental and degenerative conditions in the brain,” said Thomas Kirkland, senior research scientist at Promega. “Cephalfurimazine will allow us to bridge the gap between cell models and animal models.”

Furthermore, unlike fluorescence imaging, BLI does not require excitation light and is therefore free of autofluorescence and phototoxicity. Direct comparisons also verified the superiority of bioluminescence over fluorescence for cell detection.

Thomas Kirkland, Senior Research Scientist at Promega.
Thomas Kirkland, Senior Research Scientist at Promega. Photo: Disclosure/Promega R&D

Brain bioluminescence imaging

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his image bioluminescence allows scientists to non-invasively study gene expression, cellular localization and molecular events in living animals. A single specimen can be studied continuously throughout its lifetime with minimal disruption to its natural anatomy and physiology.

With the technique, it is possible to study the progression of degenerative and developmental diseases and characterize the effects of potential treatments on the body. According to the study itself, the brainHowever, it presents unique challenges due to the physical and physiological barriers formed by the skull and blood-brain barrier, which prevent the passage of substances from the blood into the Central Nervous System.

Its applications bioluminescence in neuroscience remain uncommon. According to research, one of the main reasons is that the blood-brain barrier limits the access of traditional luciferase substrates to the central nervous system.

“For ATP-dependent insect luciferases, such as the commonly used firefly luciferase, its natural substrate D-luciferin was once thought to be permeable to the blood-brain barrier based on its small size and ability to generate certain brain signals,” says study.

Cefafurimazine, the new substrate described in the journal, not only overcomes these challenges, but also increases sensitivity by at least 2.5 times compared to NanoLuc substrates anteriors used in neuroimaging. “This will allow scientists to better visualize molecular events in mouse models that represent conditions such as autism, Alzheimer’s disease and brain cancer,” the research concludes. And, in the future, it may also be applied to humans.

Especially in science and health, bioluminescence, or the biological process by which animals such as fireflies and jellyfish emit light from their cells, has caused major revolutions in the regions. Bioluminescent proteins have been used as tools in drug discovery and have already been widely applied in biomedical research. /With information from the AP

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