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October 29, 2009, 9:12 PM CT

Statin against parkinsonism?

Statin against parkinsonism?
Simvastatin, a usually used, cholesterol-lowering drug, may prevent Parkinson's disease from progressing further. Neurological scientists at Rush University Medical Center conducted a study examining the use of the FDA-approved medicine in mice with Parkinson's disease and observed that the drug successfully reverses the biochemical, cellular and anatomical changes caused by the disease.

"Statins are one of the most widely used cholesterol-lowering drugs throughout the world," said study author Kalipada Pahan, PhD, professor of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center. "This appears to be a safer approach to halt the disease progression in Parkinson's patients." .

Pahan and his colleagues from Rush, along with scientists at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha published these findings in the October 28 issue of the Journal of Neurosciences

The authors have shown that the activity of one protein called p21Ras is increased very early in the midbrain of mice with Parkinson's pathology. Simvastatin enters into the brain and blocks the activity of the p21Ras protein and other associated toxic molecules, and goes on to protect the neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels, and improves the motor functions in the mice with Parkinson's.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 29, 2009, 7:13 AM CT

Brain cell transplants to repair neural damage

Brain cell transplants to repair neural damage
A Swiss research team has observed that using an animal's own brain cells (autologous transplant) to replace degenerated neurons in select brain areas of donor primates with simulated but asymptomatic Parkinson's disease and previously in a motor cortex lesion model, provides a degree of brain protection and appears to be useful in repairing brain lesions and restoring function.

"We aimed at determining whether autografted cells derived from cortical gray matter, cultured for one month and re-implanted in the caudate nucleus of dopamine depleted primates, effectively survived and migrated," said Dr. Jean-Francoise Brunet who, along with colleagues, published their study in Cell Transplantation (18:7), now freely available on-line at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/ct. "The autologous, re-implanted cells survived at an impressively high rate of 50 percent for four months post-implantation".

While the use of neural grafts to restore function after lesions or degeneration of the central nervous system has been widely reported, the objective of this study was to replace depleted neurons to a restricted brain area and to avoid both the ethical controversies accompanying fetal cell transplants as well as immune rejection.

Scientists observed that the cultured cells migrated, re-implanted into the right caudate nucleus, and migrated through the corpus callosum to the contralateral striatum. Most of the cells were found in the most dopamine depleted region of the caudate nucleus. This study replicated in primates the success the research team had previously reported using laboratory mice.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 26, 2009, 7:33 AM CT

Master control switch for regeneration of nerve fibers

Master control switch for regeneration of nerve fibers
Scientists at Children's Hospital Boston report that an enzyme known as Mst3b, previously identified in their lab, is essential for regenerating damaged axons (nerve fibers) in a live animal model, in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. Their findings, published online by Nature Neuroscience on October 25, suggest Mst3b or agents that stimulate it as a possible means of treating stroke, spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injury. Normally, neurons in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) cannot regenerate injured nerve fibers, limiting people's ability to recover from brain or spinal cord injuries.

The study, led by Nina Irwin, PhD and Larry Benowitz, PhD, of the Laboratories for Neuroscience Research in Neurosurgery and the F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center at Children's, builds on prior discoveries in the lab. In 2002, they showed that a naturally occurring small molecule, inosine, stimulates axon regeneration, later showing that it helps restore neurological functions in animal models of injury. In 2006, Benowitz and his colleagues reported a previously unknown growth factor, oncomodulin, to have dramatic effects on axon growth.

Investigating the mechanisms of action of inosine and oncomodulin, Irwin and Benowitz discovered that both compounds activate Mst3b, an enzyme that may be a master regulator of a cell-signaling pathway controlling axon growth. Mst3b, a protein kinase, in turn activates signals that switch on the genes necessary for axons to grow.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 22, 2009, 7:22 AM CT

Looking into eyes to find Alzheimer's

Looking into eyes to find Alzheimer's
UCI neuroscientist Zhiqun Tan lead research that found the retinas of mice may mirror the brain ravaged by Alzheimer's disease.
Photo by Daniel A. Anderson / University Communications
The eyes appears to be the windows to the soul, but new research indicates they also may mirror a brain ravaged by Alzheimer's disease.

UC Irvine neuroresearchers have observed that retinas in mice genetically altered to have Alzheimer's undergo changes similar to those that occur in the brain - most notably the accumulation of amyloid plaque lesions.

In addition, the researchers discovered that when Alzheimer's therapies are tested in such mice, retinal changes that result might predict how the therapys will work in humans better than changes in mouse brain tissue.

These findings are key to developing retinal imaging technology that may help diagnose and treat people with Alzheimer's, which afflicts 5.3 million people in the U.S. and is the leading cause of elderly dementia. Brain imaging techniques are being tested, but retinal imaging could be less invasive, less expensive and easier to perform.

"It's important to discover the pathological changes before an Alzheimer's patient dies," said Zhiqun Tan, a UCI neuroscientist leading the research. "Brain tissue isn't transparent, but retinas are. I hope in the future we'll be able to diagnose the disease and track its progress by looking into the eyes".

For a study appearing in the recent issue of The American Journal of Pathology, Tan and his colleagues analyzed the retinas of Alzheimer's mice that had been treated with immunotherapy.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 21, 2009, 11:26 PM CT

Now you can see: Perception of invisible stimuli

Now you can see: Perception of invisible stimuli
Eventhough we assume we can see everything in our field of vision, the brain actually picks and chooses the stimuli that come into our consciousness. A newly released study in the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology's Journal of Vision reveals that our brains can be trained to consciously see stimuli that would normally be invisible.

Lead researcher Caspar Schwiedrzik from the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Gera number of said the brain is an organ that continuously adapts to its environment and can be taught to improve visual perception.

"A question that had not been tackled until now was whether a hallmark of the human brain, namely its ability to produce conscious awareness, is also trainable," Schwiedrzik said. "Our findings imply that there is no fixed border between things that we perceive and things that we do not perceive that this border can be shifted".

The scientists showed subjects with normal vision two shapes, a square and a diamond, one immediately followed by a mask. The subjects were asked to identify the shape they saw. The first shape was invisible to the subjects at the beginning of the tests, but after 5 training sessions, subjects were better able to identify both the square and the diamond.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 20, 2009, 8:46 AM CT

Deep into the brain working

Deep into the brain working
Research presented today at Neuroscience 2009, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health, provide further insights into brain mechanisms, including those involved in music, social interaction, learning and memory.

Specific research released recently:.
  • New findings indicate that musical training might enhance other auditory skills such as language acquisition and reading, and provides important diagnostic and therapy options for many hearing and language disorders.
  • Researchers employ new light-activated circuits to explore how the brain functions in both normal and pathological situations. .
  • How a person reads another's facial cues can affect an individual's ability to engage socially. Research focuses on how the brain recognizes and processes facial data in typical social interactions and how people with disorders like autism, Williams, Rett's, Fragile X, and Timothy syndromes can vary in their ability to engage with others.
........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 19, 2009, 7:12 AM CT

Why seizures occur with alcohol withdrawal

Why seizures occur with alcohol withdrawal
Epileptic seizures are the most dramatic and prominent aspect of the "alcohol withdrawal syndrome" that occurs when a person abruptly stops a long-term or chronic drinking habit. Scientists have shown that the flow of calcium ions into brain cells via voltage-gated calcium channels plays an important role in the generation of alcohol withdrawal seizures, because blocking this flow suppresses these seizures. But do the changes in calcium currents contribute to alcohol withdrawal seizures or are they a consequence of the seizures?

Using a careful analysis of correlations between the course of alcohol withdrawal seizures and the expression of calcium currents, Georgetown University Medical Center scientists observed that the enhancement of total calcium current density in pre-clinical animal studies occur previous to the onset of alcohol withdrawal seizures. The research presented at 39th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience also shows that calcium currents remain enhanced during the period of seizure susceptibility, but return to control levels when the period of seizure susceptibility is over.

"These preliminary findings are the first to indicate that altered calcium channel activity contributes to the occurrence of alcohol withdrawal seizures," explains main author, Prosper N'Gouemo, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics at GUMC. "The next step in our research is to determine which types of voltage-gated calcium channels contribute to the enhanced current density that takes place before the onset of alcohol withdrawal seizures so a potential therapy can be developed".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 19, 2009, 6:51 AM CT

Migraine sufferers, beware

Migraine sufferers, beware
Migraine sufferers, beware. You appears to be more prone to an alcohol-induced headache after a night of drinking, as per scientists from the Jefferson Headache Center. The research will be presented at Neuroscience 2009, the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, in Chicago.

Until now, studying the mechanism behind migraine and other forms of recurrent headaches has not been possible in an animal model, as per Michael Oshinsky, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, and a member of the Jefferson Headache Center team. In order to facilitate the study of migraine, Dr. Oshinsky developed a rat model in which headaches are induced by repeatedly stimulating, over weeks to months, the brain's dura mater with an inflammatory mixture.

Dr. Oshinsky and Christina Maxwell, a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience program at the Jefferson College of Graduate Studies, used their rat model to study the effects of alcohol on rats who suffer recurrent migraines, in comparison to rats that do not get headaches. They analyzed four groups of rats: two groups received repeated dural simulation, followed by an oral ingestion of saline or alcohol (the equivalent of one to two shots of liquor). Two control groups received no inflammatory stimulation, and received the similar oral ingestion of saline or alcohol.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 13, 2009, 8:15 AM CT

Alzheimer's disease: Declines in thinking and learning skills

Alzheimer's disease: Declines in thinking and learning skills
Cognitive abilities other than memory, including visuospatial skills needed to perceive relationships between objects, may decline years previous to a clinical diagnosis in patients with Alzheimer's disease, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Recent studies have focused on identifying the beginning of the transition from healthy aging to dementia," the authors write as background information in the article. "As new interventions become available, it will become important to identify the disease as early as possible." Loss of episodic memoryremembering events in one's life that can be explicitly statedis usually associated with Alzheimer's disease, but it is not the only aspect of cognition (thinking, learning and memory) that is affected.

David K. Johnson, Ph.D., of the University of Kansas, Lawrence, and his colleagues assessed 444 individuals who did not have dementia when they were enrolled in the study, between 1979 and 2006. Upon enrolling, each participant underwent a clinical assessment and a psychometric evaluation including tests of four cognitive factors: global cognition, verbal memory, visuospatial skill and working memory. Participants were then reviewed at least one additional time before November 2007.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 13, 2009, 7:48 AM CT

Parkinsonism and urate level

Parkinsonism and urate level
Parkinson disease progresses more slowly in patients who have higher levels of urate, a chemical that at very high level is linked to gout, researchers have found. While it's unknown whether the high levels actually somehow protect patients or simply serve as a marker of protection, the finding supports the idea that patients and doctors may one day be able to better predict the course of the illness.

The study, led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health and including physicians at the University of Rochester Medical Center, was published online in the Archives of Neurology

The new findings are based on biological samples, primarily blood and cerebrospinal fluid, collected from people with Parkinson disease who participated in a landmark study known as DATATOP, which was conducted two decades ago.

DATATOP, conceived and led by Rochester neurologist Ira Shoulson, M.D., is best known for shifting the landscape of neurology clinical research. Shoulson convinced dozens of researchers around the world to work together, pooling their resources to ask questions about potential new therapys for the disease big questions that could be answered only with participation by hundreds of people with the disease.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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