Spines are neuronal protrusions of the dendritic membranes, each of which receives input typically from one excitatory synapse. Dendritic spines were first described at the end of the 19th century by Santiago Ramón y Cajal, who then proposed that dendritic spines could serve as contacting sites between neurons. It was commonly admitted that spines were formed during early postnatal development and remain stable during adulthood.
Nowadays it is becoming obvious that spines are indeed motile and dynamic structures that undergo a constant turnover. Their density, shape and even postsynaptic receptors density are tightly regulated by several factors, including their neuronal activity, sensory experience, hormonal milieu and most certainly their physiopathology.
In fact, numerous brain disorders are associated with abnormal dendritic spines. Thus, an early loss of spines appears to be responsible for the memory impairment that occurs at the very first stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Currently, counting and classification of spines using light microscopy has relied on manual procedures. This manual approach can be slow and tedious, especially for samples with high spine densities.The capacity to rapidly assess spine density and spine head diameter will facilitate pharmacological studies speeding up the process of drug development.
SpineUp is currently developing new methods and drugs to design new treatments for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
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Last update: February 2020