Their work has been so fruitful that it could provide them with a lifetime worth of projects.But she and her collaborators can’t waste any time.
Neuroscience dogma had long dictated that the adult human brain did not create any new neurons.
The only time neuron numbers could increase was thought to be during fetal development and early childhood.
Instead of thymidine’s standard methyl group, Brd U has a bromine atom, a small molecular difference which researchers can detect.
If a cell divides shortly after Brd U is injected into the body, the DNA of the new cells will contain Brd U.
“In order for this to have significance, we needed to know whether this occurred in humans.” To identify dividing cells in mice and rats, Gage had been using a molecule known as bromodeoxyuridine, or Brd U.
Brd U is a synthetic nucleoside that can be incorporated into newly synthesized DNA in place of the standard nucleoside thymidine, the T in ATCG.
But Spalding persevered, and her hard work eventually paid off.
Last June, she published a paper in which she conclusively stated that adult human did indeed build new neurons in their brains.
Most aboveground nuclear bomb testing happened between 19, and those detonations released untold numbers of neutrons into the atmosphere.
These slammed into nitrogen atoms, causing their nuclei to eject a proton.
Spalding would then spend hours chipping away to extract the necessary cells, a grisly procedure that was just the first in a decade-long stretch of hurdles she had to surmount.