Our 'second brain'" modelling its development and disease
by Prof Kerry Landman
Abstract: The enteric nervous system (ENS) in our gastrointestinal tract, nicknamed the ``second brain'', is responsible for normal gut function and peristaltic contraction. Embryonic development of the ENS involves the colonisation of the gut wall from one end to the other by a population of proliferating neural crest cells. Failure of these cells to invade the whole gut results in the relatively common, potentially fatal condition known as Hirschsprung’s disease. Mathematical modelling, both continuum and discrete, provides insight into the key biological processes required for complete colonisation, generates experimentally testable predictions and gives rise to interesting mathematical problems.
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