New method developed at UCLA enables scientists to study cell activity & uncover interactions that support healthy brain function

April 4, 2018
A new method enables scientists to see an astrocyte (green) physically interacting with a synapse (red) in real time, and producing an optical signal (yellow).
Khakh Lab/UCLA Health

Baljit Khakh, a professor of physiology and neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, developed a novel tool to more closely analyze astrocytes’ relationships with synapses in the brain. Astrocytes are brain cells that are believed to hold key information about neurological disorders. Khakh and his team utilized FRET microscopy, a technique that uses light to measure miniscule distances between molecules, to track astrocyte activity in the brains of adult mice and see how these interactions change over time. The team’s work was recently featured in Neuron.

The new method offers the promise for scientists to study interactions in the brain like never before, and the researchers hope that it will unlock the answers to how astrocytes are affected by cellular activity and the role they play in influencing disease. Baljit Khahk is also a lead investigator for a UCLA Depression Grand Challenge Demonstration project.

Read more at UCLA Newsroom

Learn more about Khakh’s demonstration project