At an international neural stem cell conference in Australia, ninety of the world's top scientists in neural stem cell and brain development research, from 11 different countries were brought together last month by the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI).
Queensland is rapidly developing a growing reputation as a leading centre for neuroscience excellence, particularly in the Asia/Pacific region.
Research being carried out by QBI has implications for many common mental and neurological disorders such as dementia, psychosis, depression, anxiety and motor neuron diseases as well as other conditions.
The QBI has one of the largest groups working in the area of neural stem cells including Professor Perry Bartlett, Professor Brent Reynolds and Dr. Linda Richards, who in 1992 co-discovered that the adult brain has neural stem cells which have the potential to produce new neurons.
Professor Bartlett director of the QBI said the conference brought together many of the world's leading researchers in neural stem cells and explored their role in brain function and disease.
New research by Professor Bartlett and his team presented at the conference will no doubt raise some controversy as it says there is no evidence that the consumption of alcohol leads to the death of brain cells.
The QBI scientists have discovered that though alcohol may affect a person's behaviour temporarily it does not permanently damage the brain.
Professor Bartlett says some of the most credited studies have shown that a bottle of wine a night can actually reduce the risk of dementia in old age, and in moderation, alcohol has positive benefits for blood vessel health and may help to prevent stroke and heart disease.
Bartlett says one of the myths was that once you were born you never had the capability of making new brain cells but this is in fact untrue, as the brain has an inbuilt repair kit capable of replenishing the more than 100 billion cells in our brain.
Other speakers at the conference included distinguished scientists from Oxford, Cambridge and Yale as well as the Max Planck and Pasteur institutes.
Professor Bartlett says the quest to regulate neural stem cells has become the focus of neuroscientists around the world, and will lead to revolutionary new treatments for mental illness and degenerative diseases.
The Queensland Brain Institute was established in 2003 and is a joint initiative of the Queensland Government, The University of Queensland and The Atlantic Philanthropies.