Volume 4.41 | Oct 20

Neural Cell News 4.41, October 20, 2010.
In this issue:  Science News |  Current Publications |  Industry News |  Policy News |  Events
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TOP STORY

Fezf2 Directs the Differentiation of Corticofugal Neurons from Striatal Progenitors In Vivo  ShareThis
Here researchers show that, within the niche of the striatum, the expression of a single transcription factor, Fezf2, is sufficient to generate corticofugal neurons from progenitors fated to become medium spiny neurons. [Nat Neurosci]

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SCIENCE NEWS

Gene Connection Extends Possible Treatments to More ALS Patients
Researchers have uncovered new evidence suggesting that a gene, SOD1, which is implicated in 20 percent of inherited cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also plays a part in the more common sporadic forms of the disease. Discovery of this connection may mean that current treatments under development could be extended to a much larger population of ALS patients. [Press release from the University of Massachusetts Medical School discussing online prepublication in Nature Neuroscience]

Early Role of Mitochondria in Alzheimer’s May Help Explain Limitations to Current Beta Amyloid Hypothesis
A new study in mouse models has found that the brain’s mitochondria are one of the earliest casualties of the disease. The study also found that impaired mitochondria then injure the neurons’ synapses, which are necessary for normal brain function. [Press release from Columbia University Medical Center discussing online prepublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA]

Gene Activity in the Brain Depends on Genetic Background
Researchers have found that the same genes have different activity patterns in the brain in individuals with different genetic backgrounds. These findings may help to explain individual differences in the effectiveness and side-effect profiles of therapeutic drugs and thus have implications for personalized medicine. [Press release from the Allen Institute for Brain Science discussing online prepublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA]

Neuroscientists Closer to Understanding how Circuits in the Brain’s “Hearing Center” Spur Responses to Sound
The scientists probed how the functional connectivity among the neurons within the auditory cortex gives rise to a “map” of acoustic space. [Press release from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory discussing online prepublication in Nature Neuroscience]

Key to Blood-Brain Barrier Opens Way for Treating Alzheimer’s and Stroke
While the blood-brain barrier (BBB) protects the brain from harmful chemicals occurring naturally in the blood, it also obstructs the transport of drugs to the brain. Scientists now present a potential solution to the problem. The key to the BBB is a cell-type in the blood vessel walls called pericytes, and the researchers hope that their findings will one day contribute to new therapies for diseases like Alzheimer’s and stroke. [Press release from the Karolinska Institutet discussing online prepublication in Nature]

UCLA Study Links Immune Protein to Abnormal Brain Development
UCLA scientists have discovered that exposing fetal neurons to higher than normal levels of a common immune protein leads to abnormal brain development in mice. The finding may provide new insights into factors contributing to human neurological disorders like schizophrenia and autism. [Press release from UCLA discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Neuroimmunology]

Promise of Outpatient Brain Gene Therapy is One Step Closer
Researchers describe how they can transfer genes into brain neurons intravenously, using a viral gene delivery vehicle that causes no side effects. [Press release from Newswise discussing online prepublication in Nature Methods]

ECTRIMS: Brain Stem Cells Okay With Laquinimod
The multiple sclerosis drug laquinimod, which crosses the blood-brain barrier, is safe for brain stem cells at concentrations relevant for treatment. [Press release from MedPage Today discussing research presented at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) Meeting 2010]

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CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)


Pericytes Regulate the Blood-Brain Barrier
The results indicate a novel and critical role for pericytes in the integration of endothelial and astrocyte functions at the neurovascular unit, and in the regulation of the blood brain barrier. [Nature]

Efficient CNS Gene Delivery by Intravenous Injection
Researchers administered recombinant SV40-derived viral vectors (rSV40s) intravenously to mice with or without prior intraperitoneal injection of mannitol to deliver transgenes to the central nervous system (CNS). [Nat Methods]

Wild-type and Mutant SOD1 Share an Aberrant Conformation and a Common Pathogenic Pathway in ALS
The findings suggest that wild-type SOD1 can be pathogenic in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (SALS) and identify an SOD1-dependent pathogenic mechanism common to familial ALS (FALS) and SALS. [Nat Neurosci]

The Functional Asymmetry of Auditory Cortex is Reflected in the Organization of Local Cortical Circuits
The results are consistent with the hypothesis that auditory cortical microcircuitry is specialized to the one-dimensional representation of frequency in the auditory cortex. [Nat Neurosci]

Early Deficits in Synaptic Mitochondria in an Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) Mouse Model
The results demonstrate that synaptic mitochondria, especially A(beta)-rich synaptic mitochondria, are more susceptible to A(beta)-induced damage, highlighting the central importance of synaptic mitochondrial dysfunction relevant to the development of synaptic degeneration in AD. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Divergent and Nonuniform Gene Expression Patterns in Mouse Brain
Here, researchers examine the relationship between genetic background and spatial patterns of gene expression across seven strains of mice, providing the most extensive cellular-resolution comparative analysis of gene expression in the mammalian brain to date. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

The OGG1 DNA Glycosylase is Essential for Mitochondrial Maturation During Differentiation of Neural Stem Cells
Here, researchers show that the differentiation of neural stem cells involves robust increases in mitochondrial mass, mitochondrial DNA copy number and respiration capacity. [Stem Cells]

RBPJ(Kappa)-Dependent Signaling Is Essential for Long-Term Maintenance of Neural Stem Cells in the Adult Hippocampus
The results identify RBPJ(kappa)-dependent pathways as essential regulators of adult neural stem cell maintenance and suggest that the actions of RBPJ(kappa) are, at least in part, mediated by control of Sox2 expression. [J Neurosci]

Enhanced Neuronal Expression of Major Histocompatibility Complex Class I Leads to Aberrations in Neurodevelopment and Neurorepair
Researchers found that transgenic C57Bl/6 mice that are engineered to express higher levels of self-Db on their CNS neurons have alterations in their hippocampal morphology and retinogeniculate projections, as well as impaired neurorepair responses. Thus, enhanced neuronal classical MHCI expression can lead to aberrations in neural circuitry and neurorepair. [J Neuroimmunol]



INDUSTRY NEWS


Ceregene Initiates a New Controlled Phase 2b Trial of CERE-120 for Parkinson’s Disease
Ceregene, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, announced that enrollment has begun in a new double-blind sham surgery-controlled Phase 2b study evaluating CERE-120 in Parkinson’s disease patients. [Ceregene, Inc. Press Release]

NeurogesX to Pursue Expanded U.S. Label for Qutenza(R) (capsaicin) 8% Patch in HIV-Associated Neuropathy
NeurogesX, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing novel pain management therapies, announced plans to pursue a U.S. label expansion for Qutenza(R) (capsaicin) 8% patch to include patients with painful HIV-associated neuropathy (HIV-AN, also referred to as HIV-distal sensory polyneuropathy (HIV-DSP)). [NeurogesX, Inc. Press Release]

Neuralstem Updates ALS Clinical Trial Progress
Neuralstem, Inc. updated the progress of its ongoing Phase I human clinical trial of the company’s spinal cord stem cells in the treatment of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. [Neuralstem, Inc. Press Release]



POLICY NEWS


European Medicines Agency Strengthens Rules on Conflicts of Interests of Its Scientific Experts
The European Medicines Agency has published new rules on how the Agency will be handling potential conflicts of interests of its scientific experts, following endorsement by its Management Board. [European Medicines Agency, European Union]

Loss of UK Genetics Public Bodies Confirmed
The official announcement from the UK Government on the future of non-departmental public bodies has confirmed the rumored abolition of a total of 192 public bodies, with a further 118 to be merged. [Foundation for Genomics and Population Health, United Kingdom]

Cancer Chief Varmus Draws Up a List of Unsolved Mysteries
Harold Varmus has made a start on one of his first priorities as chief of the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI): coming up with a set of key unanswered questions. [National Institutes of Health, United States]

Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health; Notice of Meeting (FR Doc. 2010-26036) [National Institutes of Health, United States]

National Human Genome Research Institute; Notice of Closed Meeting (FR Doc. 2010-25634) [National Institutes of Health, United States]

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Notice of Closed Meetings (FR Doc. 2010-26318) [National Institutes of Health, United States]

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Notice of Closed Meeting (FR Doc. 2010-26320) [National Institutes of Health, United States]

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Notice of Closed Meeting (FR Doc. 2010-26321)[National Institutes of Health, United States]

Draft Guidance for Industry: Early Clinical Trials With Live Biotherapeutic Products: Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Control Information; Availability (FR Doc. 2010-25850) [Food and Drug Administration, United States]
 
Draft Guidance for Industry on Investigational New Drug Applications–Determining Whether Human Research Studies Can Be Conducted Without an Investigational New Drug Application; Availability (FR Doc. 2010-25851) [Food and Drug Administration, United States]



EVENTS (Listed by Date)


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

NEW Joint Meeting of the Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee and Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee Meeting
November 3, 2010
Washington, D.C., United States

Ninth Annual AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research
November 7-10, 2010
Philadelphia, United States

International Forum on Stem Cells
November 12-13, 2010
Tianjin, Peoples Republic of China 

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

The American Society for Cell Biology 50th Annual Meeting
December 11-15, 2010
Philadelphia, United States

Keystone Symposia: Adult Neurogenesis
January 9-14, 2011
Taos, New Mexico

Select Biosciences 5th Annual Stem Cells World Congress
January 24-25, 2011
San Diego, United States

Phacilitate 7th Annual Cell & Gene Therapy Forum 2011
January 24-26, 2011
Washington, DC, United States

Keystone Symposia – Stem Cells in Development, Tissue Homeostasis and Disease
January 30-February 4, 2011
Santa Fe, United States

Neurodegenerative Diseases: The Molecular and Cellular Basis for Neurodegeneration
February 21-26, 2011
Taos, United States

Trends in Central Nervous System Malignancies
March 25-26, 2011
Bucharest, Romania

Wiring the Brain: Making Connections
April 12-15, 2011
Powerscourt, Ireland

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

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