News Stories

Learning From Brain Cells Grown in a Lab

It sounds like something you might find in a horror movie, but it's REAL: Scientists are studying mental disorders, such as schizophrenia or autism, by studying brain cells in a petri dish. Their goal is not to be ghouls, but to uncover what goes wrong inside the brain before the damage starts. They reprogram the skin cells of patients with mental disorders and grow them into brain cells in the laboratory. There, under their careful watch, they can detect inherent defects in how neurons develop or function, or see what environmental toxins or other factors cause them to misbehave.

With these "diseases in a dish" they can also test the effectiveness of drugs that can right missteps in development, or counter the harm of environmental insults. Before to this disease-in-a-dish approach, the only way researchers could study human brain disorders in detail was to look for abnormalities in brain tissue removed from patients after their deaths. Neuroscientist Fred Gage says, "It's quite amazing that we can recapitulate a psychiatric disease in a petri dish."

When Whitley first started seeing the Visitors, it was the ultimate nightmare at first. Later he realized that his encounters with the Grays, which he wrote about in Communion, brought him great wisdom and insight. Both "The Grays" and "Communion" are hard to find in bookstores, but you can get BOTH of them from the Whitley Strieber Collection, and they'll come with an autographed bookplate designed by Whitley.

And here's the nightmare scenario for us: That we might have to end this website and our extraordinary radio shows because we're just not getting enough support from our readers and listeners. This isn't "trick or treat," it's a REAL problem and only YOU can solve it: Subscribe today! (Did you know that you can keep us going for less than a latte a WEEK? Less than $12 gets you a 3-month subscription.)



Subscribe to Unknowncountry sign up now