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诺贝尔医学奖揭晓 挪威夫妻上榜"夫妻档"

时间:2022-6-13 作者:哒哒在线少儿英语

The discovery of cells in the brain that act as the body’s internal global positioning system, which won three scientists the Nobel Prize for medicine on Monday, opens an intriguing new window onto dementia.

Since these spatial cells are among the first to be hit in Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia — explaining why sufferers often lose their way — understanding how they are degraded should shed important light on the disease process.

That is the belief of British-American researcher John O’Keefe, winner of the 2014 prize alongside Norwegians May-Britt and Edvard Moser, who plans to take his research to the next level as director of a new brain institute in London.

"We’re now setting up to do much more high-tech studies where we hope to follow the progression of disease over time," he told reporters after hearing he would share the 8 million Swedish crowns ($1.1 million) prize.

诺贝尔医学奖揭晓 挪威夫妻上榜夫妻档

"This will give us the first handle as to when and where the disease starts and how we can attack it at a the molecular and cellular level."

The battle against Alzheimer’s has been long and frustrating. Global cases of dementia are expected to treble by 2050, yet scientists are still struggling to understand its basic biology and drug development is littered with failures.

The work by O’Keefe and the Mosers will not lead to immediate breakthroughs but by explaining how cells function — and then fail to function — in two very specific regions of the brain it is seen as vital for unpicking how Alzheimer’s develops.

Dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is the most common form, already affects 44 million people worldwide and that number is set to reach 135 million by 2050, according to Alzheimer’s Disease International, a non-profit campaign group.

"Understanding how the healthy brain functions, especially areas of the brain crucial to learning and memory, is incredibly important in understanding what changes occur during conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease," said Doug Brown, director of research and development at Britain’s Alzheimer’s Society.

The Nobel Prize winners’ work on the brain’s navigation system stretches back more than 40 years, but more recently scientists have developed powerful new tools for studying brain circuits that O’Keefe plans to put to work at the new London research institute where his is director.

The first of more than 150 scientists will start work at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour at University College London next year, using state-of-the-art lasers, molecular biology and computational modelling to explore the brain’s intricate wiring.

"It’s a very exciting time," O’Keefe said.

The Group of Eight leading industrial countries set a goal last December of finding a cure or effective treatment for dementia by 2025.

It is a decade since the last drug was approved to treat Alzheimer’s, and there is still no treatment that can slow the progression of the disease, with current drugs only easing some of the symptoms of the disorder.

"We all know there is a time bomb there," O’Keefe said. "We are starting to get a handle on it but that doesn’t mean it is going to turn into a cure in the immediate future."

【新闻快讯】

据诺贝尔奖官方网站消息,英国伦敦大学学院教授约翰·奥基夫、挪威科技大学教授梅·布里特·莫泽及其老公爱德华·莫泽因发现“大脑中的GPS”——组成大脑定位系统的细胞,而获得今年诺贝尔生理学或医学奖。莫泽夫妇也成为第五对获诺贝尔奖的夫妇。

诺贝尔奖评选委员会在声明中介绍,“大家怎么样了解大家身处何方?大家如何找到从一个地方到另一个地方的路径?大家怎么样存储这类信息,从而可以在下一次立即找到这条路?”三位获奖科学家的研究为大家解答了这类疑问。尽管三位科学家研究所处的时空并不相同,但他们的研究都和大脑定位系统的细胞有关,揭示了大脑中的“GPS”定位和导航系统是怎么样工作的。

1971年,奥基夫就发现了构成这一体系的第一个组成部分。他发现,大脑的海马体里有一种特殊的神经细胞,每当老鼠身处屋子的特定地方时,这种细胞的一部分就会被激活。而当老鼠到了房间内的其他地方时,另外一些细胞则被激活。奥基夫觉得,这类“地方细胞”构成了房间地方的一幅地图。

34年之后的2005年,莫泽夫妇发现了大脑定位机制的另外一项重要组成部分。据诺贝尔奖官方网站称,他们确认了另外一种神经细胞,将其称为“网格细胞”。这种细胞可以产生一种坐标系统,从而使得精确定位与路径搜寻成为可能。二人的后续研究则揭示了地方和网格细胞是怎么样令定位和导航成为可能的。

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