Uncategorized — 01 May 2015

head-254863It’s hoped Newcastle’s new state-of-the-art laser microscope, the first of its kind in Australia, will lead to improved treatments for people suffering from mental health disorders. It will be used to explore brain function in people with depression and addiction, as well as obesity, stress, chronic pain and balance dysfunction. The $200,000 machine uses ‘laser stimulation’ to show how cells work within the brain, and will give researchers a better understanding of the processes involved in mental illness. Hunter Medical Research Institute’s Chris Dayas said the University of Newcastle has built a specialised laboratory for the new technology. “This is a very fancy microscope that gives us pinpoint laser power, that allows us to stimulate specific cell types in the brain,” he said. “We can use special genetic tricks to make specific cells in the brain sensitive to light. What we’re trying to do is build up that wiring diagram for the brain to make it easier for doctors to be able to treat brain disorders.” Dr Dayas said better knowledge of the brain will lead to significant advances in how the conditions are treated. “There are trillions of connections in the brain, and so we’re a little bit behind the eight ball in terms of understanding those connections,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to build a better map, which will build a better basis for the clinicians to find new treatments. This basic research is very important to lay the foundations for better treatments down the line.”

This article first appeared, ABC 1 May 2015


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