Laying a foundation for treating ALS, spinal cord injury

This story starts in 1955, upon the death of Albert Einstein, when the pathologist charged with performing the famous scientist’s autopsy stole his brain. Fast forward to the 1980s when a University of California, Berkeley scientist was studying parts of the stolen goods involved in complex thinking and discovered that the father of relativity had more of certain types of cells, called astrocytes, than other human brains studied.

Human brain’s most ubiquitous cell cultivated in lab dish

Long considered to be little more than putty in the brain and spinal cord, the star-shaped astrocyte has found new respect among neuroscientists who have begun to recognize its many functions in the brain, not to mention its role in a range of disorders of the central nervous system.