NIH BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network publishes new wave of momentous research results

New findings from the NIH BRAIN Cell Census Network (BICCN), an international collaborative, appear as 24 associated papers published in Science, Science Advances, and Science Translational Medicine.

New research funded by NIH’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies® (BRAIN) Initiative reveals the genetic, cellular, and structural makeup of the human brain and the nonhuman primate brain. This understanding of brain structure allows for a deeper knowledge of the cellular basis of brain function and dysfunction, helping pave the way for a new generation of precision therapeutics for people with mental, neurological, and substance use disorders. The findings mark the latest advance to come out of the BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) and were published today in a collection of 24 papers in Science, Science Advances, and Science Translational Medicine.

To learn more, visit the press release.

Why is this research important? The 24 papers in this latest BICCN collection detail the exceptionally complex diversity of cells in the human brain and the nonhuman primate brain. The studies identify similarities and differences in how cells are organized and how genes are regulated in the human brain and the nonhuman primate brain. Already the BICCN technologies and cell census data are being adopted by investigators studying brain tissue in many brain disorders. It’s important to recognize that the cell census data are not just a library of brain cell types, but they provide genomic keys that open the door for cell-specific therapies.

So where do we go from here? The findings build on the foundation of previous BICCN research to develop a comprehensive inventory of the cells in the brain—where they are, how they develop, how they work together, and how they regulate their activity—to better understand how brain disorders develop, progress, and are best treated. The census of brain cell types in the human brain and the nonhuman primate brain presented in this paper collection serves as a key step toward developing the brain treatments of the future. The findings also set the stage for the BRAIN Initiative Cell Atlas Network, a transformative project that, together with two other large-scale projects—the BRAIN Initiative Connectivity Across Scales and the Armamentarium for Precision Brain Cell Access—aim to revolutionize neuroscience research by illuminating foundational principles governing the circuit basis of behavior and informing new approaches to treating human brain disorders.

Dive into the Science articles today. Want to explore further? Visit the Allen Institute for more on BICCN data and tools.

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