Volume 4.25 | Jun 30

Neural Cell News 4.25, June 30, 2010.
In this issue:  Science News |  Current Publications |  Industry News |  Policy News |  Events
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TOP STORY


Hedgehog Controls Neural Stem Cells through p53-Independent Regulation of Nanog  ShareThis
Here, researchers show that Nanog is highly expressed in stem cells from postnatal cerebellum and medulloblastoma, and acts as a critical mediator of Hedgehog-driven self-renewal. [EMBO J]

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SCIENCE NEWS


Brave Brains: Neural Mechanisms of Courage Uncovered in Study of Fear of Snakes
The research provides new insight into what happens in the brain when an individual voluntarily performs an action opposite to that promoted by ongoing fear and may even lead to new treatment strategies for those who exhibit a failure to overcome their fear. [Press release from ScienceDaily discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

Mouse Study Sheds Light on Diabetes-Heart Disease Link
A potential link between diabetes and a heightened risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death has been spotted by researchers studying mice. In the new study, the investigators found that high blood sugar prevents critical communication between the brain and the autonomic nervous system. [Press release from McGill University discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

Virus ‘Explorers’ Probe Inner Workings of the Brain
Lynn Enquist is leading an effort to use genetically engineered viruses as explorers that travel throughout the nervous system, tracing the connections between neurons and reporting on their activity along the way. [Princeton University Press Release]

Neuroscientists Can Predict Your Behavior Better Than You Can
In a study with implications for the advertising industry and public health organizations, UCLA neuroscientists have shown they can use brain scanning to predict whether people will use sunscreen during a one-week period even better than the people themselves can. [Press release from UCLA discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Neuroscience]

Impulsive, Weak-Willed or Just Too Much Dopamine? Brain Study Highlights Role of Dopamine in Impulsive Behavior
Researchers have shown that increased levels of dopamine — a chemical in the brain involved in mediating reward, motivation, and learning through reinforcement, — make us more likely to opt for instant gratification, rather than waiting for a more beneficial reward. [Press release from ScienceDaily discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Neuroscience]

UCL Brain Study Reveals that Agreement is Rewarding
Researchers have found that the ‘reward’ area of the brain is activated when people agree with our opinions. The study suggests that scientists may be able to predict how much people can be influenced by the opinions of others on the basis of the level of activity in the reward area. [Press release from University College London discussing online prepublication in Current Biology]

Scientists Discover Mice Cages Can Alter Rodents’ Brains and Skew Research Results
Researchers have found the brains of mice used in laboratories worldwide can be profoundly affected by the type of cage they are kept in, a breakthrough that may require scientists to reevaluate the way they conduct future experiments. [Press release from the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus discussing online prepublication in PLoS ONE]

A Butterfly Effect in the Brain
The idea was to introduce a small perturbation into the brain, the neural equivalent of butterfly wings, and ask what would happen to the activity in the circuit. Would the perturbation grow and have a knock-on effect, thus affecting the rest of the brain, or immediately die out? [Press release from University College London discussing online prepublication in Nature]

Microbial Protein Restores Vision in Blind Animals
Neurobiologists have devised a gene therapeutic method to restore the functionality of the cone cells in models of retinitis pigmentosa. They used a light-sensitive protein called halorhodopsin from archaebacteria to re-establish vision. [Press release from the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research discussing online prepublication in Science]

Brain Scans Support Genes’ Role in Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists have confirmed that four suspect genes are tied to Alzheimer’s disease and linked the disease to two new genes, offering unexpected targets for future research. [Press release from the National Institutes of Health discussing online prepublication in the Archives of Neurology]

Hallmark Alzheimer’s Disease Changes Found in Retinas of Humans and Imaged in Live Animals
Scientists discovered characteristic amyloid plaques in retinas from Alzheimer’s disease patients and opused a noninvasivetical imaging technique to detect retinal plaques in live laboratory mice, suggesting the possibility of early noninvasive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. [Press release from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center discussing online prepublication in NeuroImage]

Gestational Diabetes Linked to Serotonin and Dietary Protein
The cause of diabetes during pregnancy is directly controlled by serotonin and is influenced by the amount of protein in the mother’s diet early in pregnancy, according to new findings. [Press release from University of California, San Francisco discussing online prepublication in Nature Medicine]

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CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)


Sensitivity to Perturbations In Vivo Implies High Noise and Suggests Rate Coding in Cortex
It is well known that neural activity exhibits variability, in the sense that identical sensory stimuli produce different responses, but it has been difficult to determine what this variability means. Is it noise, or does it carry important information-about, for example, the internal state of the organism? Here, researchers address this issue from the bottom up, by asking whether small perturbations to activity in cortical networks are amplified. [Nature]

Genetic Reactivation of Cone Photoreceptors Restores Visual Responses in Retinitis pigmentosa
Researchers show that expression of archaebacterial halorhodopsin in light-insensitive cones can substitute for the native phototransduction cascade and restore their light sensitivity in mouse models of retinitis pigmentosa. [Science]

Serotonin Regulates Pancreatic Beta Cell Mass During Pregnancy
Here, researchers show that serotonin acts downstream of lactogen signaling to stimulate beta cell proliferation. [Nat Med]

Fear Thou Not: Activity of Frontal and Temporal Circuits in Moments of Real-Life Courage
In this study, volunteers who fear snakes had to bring a live snake into close proximity with their heads while their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Bringing the snake closer was associated with a dissociation between subjective fear and somatic arousal. [Neuron]


Diabetes Depresses Synaptic Transmission in Sympathetic Ganglia by Inactivating nAChRs through a Conserved Intracellular Cysteine Residue
Most people with diabetes develop severe complications of the autonomic nervous system; yet, the underlying causes of many diabetic-induced dysautonomias are poorly understood. Here, researchers explore the idea that these dysautonomias results, in part, from a defect in synaptic transmission. [Neuron]

How the Opinion of Others Affects Our Valuation of Objects
Researchers investigated what happens in our brain when we agree with others about the value of an object and whether or not there is evidence, at the neural level, for social conformity through which we change object valuation. [Curr Biol]

Electrical Activity Suppresses Axon Growth through Cav1.2 Channels in Adult Primary Sensory Neurons
Researchers show here that loss of electrical activity following peripheral deafferentiation is an important signal to trigger axon regrowth. [Curr Biol]

Predicting Persuasion-Induced Behavior Change from the Brain
Researchers demonstrate that neural responses to persuasive messages can predict variability in behavior change in the subsequent week. [ J Neurosci]

Stem Cell-Derived Neurons Grafted in the Striatum Are Expelled Out of the Brain After Chronic Cortical Stroke
In the rodent, fetal brain neural precursors or stem cell-derived neurons grafted in the stroke-lesioned brain integrate successfully and reduce infarct in the short term. Researchers have examined the fate, in the long term, of mouse embryonic stem cell-derived neural precursors grafted after permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion in mice. [Stroke]

Genetic Variation and Neuroimaging Measures in Alzheimer Disease
The objective of this study was to investigate whether genome-wide association study (GWAS)-validated and GWAS-promising candidate loci influence magnetic resonance imaging measures and clinical Alzheimer’s disease status. [Arch Neurol]

Identification of Amyloid Plaques in Retinas from Alzheimer’s Patients and Noninvasive In Vivo Optical Imaging of Retinal Plaques in a Mouse Model
Researchers identified retinal beta-amyloid plaques in postmortem eyes from Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients (n = 8) and in suspected early stage cases (n = 5), consistent with brain pathology and clinical reports; plaques were undetectable in age-matched non-AD individuals (n = 5). [Neuroimage]

Toward a Mouse Neuroethology in the Laboratory Environment
In this report, researchers demonstrate that differences in cage type brought unexpected effects on aggressive behavior and neuroanatomical features of the mouse olfactory bulb. [PLoS ONE]




INDUSTRY NEWS


STEMCELL Technologies is Proud to Announce STEMcircles™, a Virus-Free Technology for Reprogramming Cells
STEMCELL Technologies Inc. announced that they have signed a licensing agreement with Stanford University for a virus-free technique used for the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells. This technology will soon be commercially released by STEMCELL Technologies as STEMcircles™. [STEMCELL Technologies, Inc. Press Release]

Neuralstem Completes $10 Million Registered Direct Offering
Neuralstem, Inc. announced that it has completed its previously announced registered direct offering of $10 million of units to institutional investors. [Neuralstem, Inc. Press Release]

StemCells, Inc. Announces $6 Million Equity Financing
StemCells, Inc. announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell seven million shares of its common stock to Seaside 88, LP (“Seaside”), a private investment partnership, at a price of $0.865 per share, which represents a 12.6% discount to the closing price per share of June 29. [Stemcells, Inc. Press Release]

DiaMedica  Announces Completion of Sanomune Acquisition and $2.26 million Prospectus Offering Also Announces Management Changes
DiaMedica Inc. is pleased to announce the completion of its $2.26 million short form prospectus offering of units and its previously announced acquisition of Sanomune Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on neurological disorders. [DiaMedica Inc. Press Release]

How Do You Spell Relief? Two More Years of Pain Research for AstraZeneca and McGill
Building on a successful five-year alliance which concluded earlier this year, AstraZeneca and McGill University have signed a two-year research agreement that focuses on new drug-discovery approaches and finding new treatments for patients living with chronic pain. [McGill University Press Release]

Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy and California Stem Cell, Inc. Motor Graft TM Project 2010 Update
Families of SMA, in collaboration with California Stem Cell, Inc. and the University of California, Irvine, have made significant progress in the Motor Neuron Program for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. [PRWeb]

Neurologix Announces Successful Phase II Trial of Gene Therapy for Parkinson’s Disease
Neurologix, Inc. announced positive results in a Phase II trial of its investigational gene therapy for advanced Parkinson’s disease, NLX-P101. [Neurologix, Inc. Press Release]




POLICY NEWS


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Notice of Closed Meeting (2010-15899) [National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, United States]

Correction on the First Submission Date for Resubmission and Revision Applications for the Alzheimers Disease Drug Development Program (U01) (PA-10-205) (NOT-AG-10-006) [National Institute on Aging, United States]

Amendment to Notice NOT-MH-10-021 – “NIMH Announces Availability of Funds for Competitive Revision Applications for Targeted Research on Mental Health Disparities (NOT-MH-10-026)” [National Institute of Mental Health, United States]

Request for Information: Scientific and Collaborative Considerations Associated with the NINDS Epilepsy Centers without Walls Program (NOT-NS-10-020) [National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, United States]

Notice of Intent to Publish a Series of Request for Applications for the NINDS Epilepsy Centers without Walls Program (U54) (NOT-NS-10-022) [National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, United States]

Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting (Docket No. FDA-2010-N-0001) [Food and Drug Administration, United States]



EVENTS


7th Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) Forum of European Neuroscience
July 3-7, 2010
Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Translational Cancer Medicine 2010 – USA
July 11-14, 2010
San Francisco, United States


United Kingdom National Stem Cell Network (UKNSCN) Annual Scientific Conference
July 12-14, 2010
Nottingham, United Kingdom


Select Biosciences 3rd Annual Stem Cells Europe Conference
August 24-25, 2010
Edinburgh, Scotland


Joint Metastasis Research Society – American Association of Cancer Research Conference on Metastasis and the Tumor Microenvironment
September 12-15, 2010
Philadelphia, United States


Stem Cells USA & Regenerative Medicine Congress 2010
September 13-15, 2010
Philadelphia, United States


4th American Association of Cancer Research International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development
September 27-30, 2010
Denver, United States


6th International Symposium on Neuroprotection and Neurorepair
October 1-4, 2010
Rostock, Germany


2010 World Stem Cell Summit
October 4-6, 2010
Detroit, United States


Translational Cancer Research for Basic Scientists
October 17-22, 2010
Boston, United States


Fraunhofer Life Science Symposium 2010
October 29-30, 2010
Leipzig, Germany


Stem Cell Society Singapore Symposium 2010: Translating Science to Therapy
November 2-3, 2010
Singapore City, Singapore


40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience 2010
November 13-17, 2010
San Diego, United States


Stem Cell Network 10th Annual Scientific Meeting
November 22-24, 2010
Calgary, Canada


Visit our events page to stay up to date with the latest events in the cell, gene and immunotherapy community.


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