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January 28, 2008, 5:15 AM CT

Stroke victims may benefit from stem cell transplants

Stroke victims may benefit from stem cell transplants
As per two studies reported in the current issue of CELL TRANSPLANTATION (Vol.16 No.10), stroke victims may benefit from human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) or bone marrow stromal cell (BMSCs) transplantation. In both studies, the migration of chemically tagged transplanted stem cells were tracked to determine the degree to which the transplanted cells reached damaged areas of the brain and became therapeutically active.



Tracking transplanted hMSCs to infarcted areas


In a study carried out by Korean researchers, labeled hMSCs (early precursor cells to musculoskeletal, blood, vascular and urogenital systems) were transplanted into animal stroke models with cerebral artery occlusion and tracked by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at two days, one week, two weeks, six weeks and ten weeks after transplant.

Cells started showing indications of migration as early as one or two weeks following transplantation, said lead author Jihwan, Song, DPhil, of the Pochon CHA University College of Medicine. At 10 weeks, the majority of the cells were detected in the core of the infarcted area.

The study concluded that there is a strong tendency for transplanted hMSCs to migrate toward the infarcted area regardless of injection site but that the degree of migration was likely based on differences in each animals ischemic condition.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 24, 2008, 11:17 PM CT

New MIT tool probes brain circuits

New MIT tool probes brain circuits
Scientists at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT report in the Jan. 24 online edition of Science that they have created a way to see, for the first time, the effect of blocking and unblocking a single neural circuit in a living animal.

This revolutionary method allowed Susumu Tonegawa, Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, and his colleagues to see how bypassing a major memory-forming circuit in the brain affected learning and memory in mice.

Our data strongly suggest that the hippocampal neural pathway called the tri-synaptic pathway, or TSP, plays a crucial role in quickly forming memories when encountering new events and episodes in day-to-day life, Tonegawa said. Our results indicate that the decline of these abilities, such as that which accompanies neurodegenerative diseases and normal aging in humans, is likely to be due, at least in part, to the malfunctioning of this circuit.

Combining several cutting-edge genetic engineering techniques, Tonegawa's laboratory invented a method called doxycycline-inhibited circuit exocytosis-knockdown, or DICE-K-an acronym that also reflects Tonegawa's admiration of ace Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. DICE-K allows scientists for the first time to induce and reverse a blockade of synaptic transmission in specific neural circuits in the hippocampus.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 7, 2008, 10:50 PM CT

Trichloroethylene is a risk factor for parkinsonism

Trichloroethylene is a risk factor for parkinsonism
Parkinsons disease, the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder caused by aging, can also be caused by pesticides and other neurotoxins. A new study found good evidence that trichloroethylene (TCE) is a risk factor for parkinsonism, a group of nervous disorders with symptoms similar to Parkinsons disease. TCE is a chemical widely used in industry that is also found in drinking water, surface water and soil due to runoff from manufacturing sites where it is used. The study was reported in the October 2007 issue of Annals of Neurology (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/ana), the official journal of the American Neurological Association.

Led by Don M. Gash and John T Slevin, of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY, scientists conducting a clinical trial of 10 Parkinsons disease patients came across a patient who described long-term exposure to TCE, which he suspected to be a risk factor in his disease. TCE has been identified as an environmental contaminant in almost 60 percent of the Superfund priority sites listed by the Environmental Protection Agency and there has been increasing concern about its long term effects. The patient noted that some of his co-workers had also developed Parkinsons disease, which led to the current study of this patient and two of his co-workers diagnosed with Parkinsons disease who underwent neurological evaluations to assess motor function. All of these individuals had at least a 25 year history of occupational exposure to TCE, which included both inhalation and exposure to it from submerging their unprotected arms and forearms in a TCE vat or touching parts that had been cleaned in it. In addition, questionnaires about experiencing signs of Parkinsons disease, such as slowness of voluntary movement, stooped posture and trouble with balance, were mailed to 134 former workers. The scientists also conducted studies in rats to determine how TCE affects the brain.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 2, 2008, 8:33 PM CT

Where thoughts of familiar objects occur inside the human brain

Where thoughts of familiar objects occur inside the human brain
A team of Carnegie Mellon University computer researchers and cognitive neuroscientists, combining methods of machine learning and brain imaging, have found a way to identify where peoples thoughts and perceptions of familiar objects originate in the brain by identifying the patterns of brain activity linked to the objects. An article in the Jan. 2 issue of PLoS One discusses this new method, which was developed over two years under the leadership of neuroscientist Professor Marcel Just and Computer Science Professor Tom M. Mitchell.

A dozen study participants enveloped in an MRI scanner were shown line drawings of 10 different objects five tools and five dwellings one at a time and asked to think about their properties. Just and Mitchells method was able to accurately determine which of the 10 drawings a participant was viewing based on their characteristic whole-brain neural activation patterns. To make the task more challenging for themselves, the scientists excluded information in the brains visual cortex, where raw visual information is available, and focused more on the thinking parts of the brain.

The researchers observed that the activation pattern evoked by an object wasnt located in just one place in the brain. For instance, thinking about a hammer activated a number of locations. How you swing a hammer activated the motor area, while what a hammer is used for, and the shape of a hammer activated other areas.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 27, 2007, 9:19 AM CT

High triglycerides, other cholesterol raise risk of stroke

High triglycerides, other cholesterol raise risk of stroke
People with high triglycerides and another type of cholesterol tested but not commonly reviewed as part of a persons risk assessment have an increased risk of a certain type of stroke, as per research reported in the December 26, 2007, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

LDL or bad cholesterol has been the primary target for reducing the risk of stroke, but these results show that other types of cholesterol may be more strongly linked with stroke risk, said study author Bruce Ovbiagele, MD, of UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA, and member of the American Academy of Neurology.

The scientists analyzed the records of 1,049 people admitted to a university hospital with a stroke or mini-stroke over four years. Of those, 247 people had a large artery atherosclerotic stroke. This is a type of ischemic stroke caused by a blockage of blood flow to the brain. People with this type of stroke have blockage in the large arteries leading to the brain.

Those with high triglycerides and elevated non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol were more likely to have a large artery atherosclerotic stroke than those with low levels of these fats in the blood.

Those with the highest triglycerides were 2.7 times more likely to have this type of stroke than those with the lowest level. Triglycerides are fatty acids and are the most common type of fat in the blood. Those with the greatest non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is neither the good nor the bad cholesterol, were 2.4 times more likely to have a large artery stroke.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 25, 2007, 11:07 PM CT

Why fish oil is good for you

Why fish oil is good for you
It's good news that we are living longer, but bad news that the longer we live, the better our odds of developing late-onset Alzheimer's disease.

A number of Alzheimer's scientists have long touted fish oil, by pill or diet, as an accessible and inexpensive "weapon" that may delay or prevent this debilitating disease. Now, UCLA researchers have confirmed that fish oil is indeed a deterrent against Alzheimer's, and they have identified the reasons why.

Reporting in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, now online, Greg Cole, professor of medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and associate director of UCLA's Alzheimer Disease Research Center, and colleagues report that the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish oil increases the production of LR11, a protein that is found at reduced levels in Alzheimer's patients and which is known to destroy the protein that forms the "plaques" linked to the disease.

The plaques are deposits of a protein called beta amyloid that is believed to be toxic to neurons in the brain, leading to Alzheimer's. Since having high levels of LR11 prevents the toxic plaques from being made, low levels in patients are thought to bea factor in causing the disease.

Alzheimer's is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease that causes memory loss, dementia, personality change and ultimately death. The national Alzheimer's Association estimates that 5.1 million Americans are currently afflicted with the disease and predicts that the number may increase to between 11 million and 16 million people by the year 2050.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 20, 2007, 5:35 AM CT

Walking and moderate exercise help prevent dementia

Walking and moderate exercise help prevent dementia
People age 65 and older who regularly walk and get other forms of moderate exercise appear to significantly lower their risk of developing vascular dementia, the second most common form of dementia after Alzheimers disease, as per a research studyreported in the December 19, 2007, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The four-year study involved 749 men and women in Italy who were over age 65 and did not have memory problems at the beginning of the study. Scientists measured the amount of energy exerted in the participants weekly physical activities, including walking, climbing stairs, and moderate activities, such as house and yard work, gardening, and light carpentry. By the end of the study, 54 people developed Alzheimers disease and 27 developed vascular dementia.

The study found the top one-third of participants who exerted the most energy walking were 27 percent less likely to develop vascular dementia than those people in the bottom one-third of the group.

Participants who scored in the top one-third for the most energy exerted in moderate activities lowered their risk of vascular dementia by 29 percent and people who scored in the top one-third for total physical activity lowered their risk by 24 percent in comparison to those in the bottom one-third.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 13, 2007, 10:04 PM CT

Green tea may protect brain cells against Parkinson's

Green tea may protect brain cells against Parkinson's
Does the consumption of green tea, widely touted to have beneficial effects on health, also protect brain cells" Authors of a new study being published in the December 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry share new data that indicates this may be the case. The authors investigated the effects of green tea polyphenols, a group of naturally occurring chemical substances found in plants that have antioxidant properties, in an animal model of Parkinsons disease.

Parkinsons disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, resulting from the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells, and there is presently no cure. According to Dr. Baolu Zhao, corresponding and senior author on this article, current treatments for Parkinsons are associated with serious and important side effects. Their previous research has indicated that green tea possesses neuroprotective effects, leading Guo and colleagues to examine its effects specifically in Parkinsons. The authors discovered that green tea polyphenols protect dopamine neurons that increases with the amount consumed. They also show that this protective effect is mediated by inhibition of the ROS-NO pathway, a pathway that may contribute to cell death in Parkinsons.

Considering the popularity of green tea beverages worldwide, there is enormous public interest in the health effects of its consumption. John H. Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry and affiliated with both Yale University School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, reminds us that many health-related claims have been made for a wide variety of naturally-occurring substances and many of these claims, as in the case of St. Johns Wort and Ginko Biloba, have not held up in rigorous clinical studies. Thus, it is extremely important to identify the putative neuroprotective mechanisms in animal models, as Guo and colleagues have begun to do for Parkinsons disease. ........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 13, 2007, 9:46 PM CT

Early treatment stops epilepsy

Early treatment stops epilepsy
Yale graduate student standing in front of neuroimage.

Credit: Yale University

Yale School of Medicine researchers have shown for the first time that it is possible to suppress the development of epilepsy in genetically predisposed animalswhich could open the door to treating epilepsy as a preventable disease.

According to the study published this month in Epilepsia, early treatment of epilepsy-prone rats with the anti-convulsant medicine ethosuximide before the onset of seizures led to a marked suppression of seizures both later in life and months after treatment stopped.

Current treatments for epilepsy may control seizures, but they do nothing to alter the underlying disease, said Hal Blumenfeld, M.D., associate professor of neurology and lead author of the study. These findings are important because they set the stage for prevention of epilepsy in genetically susceptible people.

Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder that affects about 50 million people worldwide. Typically typically it is characterized by seizurestemporary loss of consciousness or muscular controlthat are precipitated by abnormal electrical overload on neurons within the brain.

Using a combination of molecular profiling, electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings, and power spectral analysis, Blumenfeld and his colleagues demonstrated that ethosuximide effectively blocked the expression of an epilepsy-associated maladaptive protein within neurons of the brain and reduced the number of seizures in treated animals.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 12, 2007, 9:47 PM CT

'Retrospective Rubber' Remembers Its Old Identities

'Retrospective Rubber' Remembers Its Old Identities
Professor Mitchell Anthamatten, and graduate student Jiahui Li, of the Department of Chemical Engineering
Scientists at the University of Rochester have developed a shape-memory rubber that may enable applications as diverse as biomedical implants, conformal face-masks, self-sealing sutures, and "smart" labels.

The material, described in the journal Advanced Materials, forms a new class of shape-memory polymers, which are materials that can be stretched to a new shape and will stay in that form until heated, at which time they revert to their initial shape.

Unlike conventional shape-memory polymers, however, the new material is transparent, rubbery, and most importantly, engineers will be able to control the speed at which it returns to its original shape. Other shape memory polymers use crystallization to hold a temporary shape, which often makes them opaque, hard, and brittle in their frozen states, and this can limit their use.

"At higher temperatures the material stretches like a rubber band, but, at lower temperatures, it stiffens up," says Mitchell Anthamatten, assistant professor of chemical engineering and inventor of the material. "This property can be used to temporarily hold the material in a deformed shape; and its original shape can be recalled by heating. Imagine an optical lens that can be triggered to change shape, a face-mask that can fit any user, or a biomedical implant that changes shape slow enough for a surgical procedure".........

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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