Our bodies are born with X number of neurons, which are the parts of the nervous system that carry chemical and electrical messages between the brain and other body parts. Up until now, no one has found neurons reproducing like regular cells do.
Now scientists have found a way to manipulate an RNA molecule called Pnky in such a way that neural stem cells will actually produce new neurons. It’s a complex process that takes a lot of explaining, so read more at BioScienceTechnology.com. And while you’re at it, read some clear layperson’s explanations about the many functions neurons perform in our bodies and brains on Psychology.About.com.
They’ve only done this in mice so far. But it’s clear this discovery constitutes a breakthrough in understanding a whole set of long, non-coding RNA molecules that researchers have heretofore assumed were just there–with no known function. One scientist called these the “dark matter” of the human genome, meaning there’s a lot more of this stuff than there is of the DNA we’ve already explored and named.
Another whole new world of knowledge is just beginning to crack open.