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October 17th, 2003
Nerve cells chatter
French scientists using an innovative microscopic scanning technique say they have discovered that nerve cells almost buzz with molecular agitation when they communicate with each other. The work sheds light on how cells operate at the synapse - the minute gap between neurones, as nerve cells are called. Their observations were made on spinal cord tissue from rats, and used a probe called quantum dots - fluorescent semi-conductors, with a cadmium-selenium core and a zinc sulphide shell - to tag receptors for glycine, a key synapse signalling chemical.
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