Teenager Proves That MSG Slows Brain Cell Growth

A Canadian researcher is getting ready to publish a groundbreaking study that links MSG to reduced growth in the brain cells of snails -- work that could have major implications for children's health. And the researcher in question, Michelle Ah-Seng, is only 17 years old.

Ah-Seng is a high school student from Cochrane, just west of Calgary, but she's also the lead researcher on a University of Calgary study that offers the first solid proof that high concentrations of MSG, an additive used to boost flavor in many foods, can stunt the growth of brain cells.

Ah-Seng is one of 22 Grade 11 students spending six weeks of their summer vacation in labs and clinics at the University of Calgary as part of the 2008 Heritage Youth Researcher Summer Program. Her project involved directly dosing brain cells culled from snails with a concentration of monosodium glutamate equal to what might commonly be found in human blood or cerebral spinal fluid after eating a meal containing the additive, such as a bag of potato chips.

Not only did the MSG inhibit growth of the snail's brain cells, it also limited communication between them.

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