Volume 4.44 | Nov 10

Neural Cell News 4.44, November 10, 2010.
In this issue:  Science News |  Current Publications |  Industry News |  Policy News |  Events
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TOP STORY

Scripps Research Scientists Find Nerve Cell Activity Drains Stem Cell Pool in Developing Brain ShareThis
Researchers have shown that as newly formed nerve cells start firing electrical signals, this activity slows down stem cell division, emptying out the stem cell pool in favor of nerve cell formation. [Press release from The Scripps Research Institute discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

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SCIENCE NEWS


Stanford Scientists See the Logic in the Illogical Behavior of Neurons
Neurons in your brain trigger the physical movements of your body, but some of them seem to fire in a crazy quilt pattern just before and during the movement. But Stanford researchers say there is method in the apparent madness. [Press release from Stanford University discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

UCLA Researchers Identify Molecular Program for Brain Repair Following Stroke
Researchers have, for the first time, identified in the mouse the molecular cascade that drives the process of reconnection or sprouting in the adult brain after stroke. [Press release from the University of California, Los Angeles discussing online prepublication in Nature Neuroscience]

Researchers to Explore Why There is a High Risk of Second Stroke
Neurological researchers at Rush University Medical Center are part of a multicenter, National Institutes of Health study to determine the levels of stroke risk and stroke recurrence in patients with narrowed brain arteries. [Rush University Medical Center Press Release]

Lactate in the Brain Reveals Aging Process
Researchers have shown that they may be able to monitor the aging process in the brain, by using MRI technique to measure the brain lactic acid levels. Findings suggest that the lactate levels increase in advance of other aging symptoms, and therefore could be used as an indicator of aging and age-related diseases of the CNS. [Press release from Karolinska Institutet discussing online prepublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA]

UCLA Study Reveals How Autism-Risk Gene Rewires the Brain
Using a blend of brain imaging and genetic detective work, scientists illustrate how a gene variant tied to autism rewires the brain. Their discovery pinpoints the crucial missing mechanism that links altered genes to modified brain function and disrupted learning. [Press release from the University of California, Los Angeles discussing online prepublication in Science Translational Medicine]

Mind Over Matter: Study Shows We Consciously Exert Control Over Individual Neurons
Researchers have shown that humans can actually regulate the activity of specific neurons in the brain, increasing the firing rate of some while decreasing the rate of others. And study subjects were able to do so by manipulating an image on a computer screen using only their thoughts. [Press release from the University of California, Los Angeles discussing online prepublication in Nature]

Team Implicates Wayward DNA-Repair Enzyme in Friedreich’s Ataxia
Scripps Research Institute scientists have taken a step closer to understanding the cause of Friedreich’s ataxia. After creating a stem cell model of the disease from patients’ skin cells, scientists found strong evidence for the involvement of a DNA repair enzyme in the FXN triplet repeat expansion. The finding suggests that the expansion is driven by the enzyme’s misguided attempts to repair what it recognizes as DNA damage. [Press release from The Scripps Research Institute discussing online prepublication in Cell Stem Cell]

Stopping the Brain From Hurting Itself
One-third of stroke survivors never recover enough brain function to live on their own. Now scientists think they know why. Once a stroke kills a swath of brain cells, the neurotransmitter GABA impairs the surviving, apparently healthy, brain tissue. Targeting GABA could help a stroke-afflicted brain better overcome its damage, the researchers suggest. [Press release from ScienceNow discussing online prepublication in Nature]

Synapses Recycle Proteins for the Release of Neurotransmitters
With the help of a new method, neuroscientists have now discovered that neurons systematically recycle the protein components necessary for transmitter release and in this way guarantee the reliability of signal transmission in the brain. [Press release from the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine in Göttingen discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

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CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)


On-line, Voluntary Control of Human Temporal Lobe Neurons
Recording from single neurons in patients implanted with intracranial electrodes for clinical reasons, here researchers demonstrate that humans can regulate the activity of their neurons in the medial temporal lobe to alter the outcome of the contest between external images and their internal representation. [Nature]

Reducing Excessive GABA-Mediated Tonic Inhibition Promotes Functional Recovery After Stroke
Here researchers show that after a stroke in mice, tonic neuronal inhibition is increased in the peri-infarct zone. This increased tonic inhibition is mediated by extrasynaptic GABA(A) receptors and is caused by an impairment in GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) transporter (GAT-3/GAT-4) function. [Nature]

Friedreich’s Ataxia Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Model Intergenerational GAA-TTC Triplet Repeat Instability
The inherited neurodegenerative disease Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA) is caused by GAA-TTC triplet repeat hyperexpansions within the first intron of the FXN gene, encoding the mitochondrial protein frataxin. Long GAA-TTC repeats cause heterochromatin-mediated gene silencing and loss of frataxin in affected individuals. Researchers report the derivation of induced pluripotent stem cells from FRDA patient fibroblasts by transcription factor reprogramming. [Cell Stem Cell]

An Age-Related Sprouting Transcriptome Provides Molecular Control of Axonal Sprouting After Stroke
Researchers selectively isolated neurons that sprout a new connection in cortex after stroke and compared their whole-genome expression profile to that of adjacent, non-sprouting neurons. [Nat Neurosci]

Otx2 Controls Neuron Subtype Identity in Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) and Antagonizes Vulnerability to MPTP
Researchers found that Otx2 controls neuron subtype identity by antagonizing molecular and functional features of dorsal-lateral VTA, such as Girk2 and Dat expression. [Nat Neurosci]

Visual Activity Regulates Neural Progenitor Cells in Developing Xenopus CNS through Musashi1
While proliferation of neural progenitors predominates during early central nervous system (CNS) development, progenitor cell fate shifts toward differentiation as CNS circuits develop, suggesting that signals from developing circuits may regulate proliferation and differentiation. Researchers tested whether activity regulates neurogenesis in vivo in the developing visual system of Xenopus tadpoles. [Neuron]

Cortical Preparatory Activity: Representation of Movement or First Cog in a Dynamical Machine?
The motor cortices are active during both movement and movement preparation. A common assumption is that preparatory activity constitutes a subthreshold form of movement activity: a neuron active during rightward movements becomes modestly active during preparation of a rightward movement. Researchers asked whether this pattern of activity is, in fact, observed. They found that it was not: at the level of a single neuron, preparatory tuning was weakly correlated with movement-period tuning. [Neuron]

SNARE Protein Recycling by alpha-SNAP and beta-SNAP Supports Synaptic Vesicle Priming
Researchers examined the effects of genetic perturbation of alpha- and beta-SNAP expression on synaptic vesicle exocytosis, employing a new Ca2+ uncaging protocol to study synaptic vesicle trafficking, priming, and fusion in small glutamatergic synapses of hippocampal neurons. [Neuron]

High Brain Lactate is a Hallmark of Aging and Caused by a Shift in the Lactate Dehydrogenase A/B Ratio
Here, researchers used normally aging and prematurely aging mtDNA mutator mice to establish a molecular link between mitochondrial dysfunction and abnormal metabolism in the aging process. Using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy and HPLC, researchers found that brain lactate levels were increased twofold in both normally and prematurely aging mice during aging. [ Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Altered Functional Connectivity in Frontal Lobe Circuits Is Associated with Variation in the Autism Risk Gene CNTNAP2
Using functional neuroimaging, researchers have demonstrated a relationship between frontal lobar connectivity and common genetic variants in CNTNAP2 . These data provide a mechanistic link between specific genetic risk for neurodevelopmental disorders and empirical data implicating dysfunction of long-range connections within the frontal lobe in autism. [Sci Transl Med]
 



INDUSTRY NEWS


Aestus Therapeutics Awarded Qualifying Therapeutic Development Project Grant for Clinical Studies of Novel Pain Treatment
Aestus Therapeutics, Inc. announced that it has been awarded a $244,000 grant from the U.S. Government’s Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project (“QTDP”) program. The grant, awarded for the project, “Treating neuropathic pain by means of novel mechanisms,” will help to fund clinical trials of Aestus’s novel, first-in-class treatment for chronic neuropathic pain. [Therapeutics Daily]

UCB and Plasticell Partner to Identify Compounds for SC Research and Cell Therapeutics
U.K. stem cell technologies firm Plasticell is to provide UCB with services based on its CombiCult™ screening technology to help identify new indications for compounds in stem cell biology, differentiation, and, potentially, tissue regeneration. [Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News]

Targacept Scientists to Present Data Supporting the Potential of NNR Therapeutics for the Treatment of Nervous System Diseases and Disorders
Targacept, Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel NNR Therapeutics (TM), announced that its scientists are scheduled to make several presentations at the 40th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience being held in San Diego, California from November 13 through November 17, 2010. [Targacept, Inc. Press Release]

General Manifolds LLC Announces Issuance of US Patent in Computational Neuroscience
General Manifolds LLC, a technology company focused on fundamental cognitive algorithms, announced that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued US Patent 7,805,386 covering a computational system and method for simulating functions within the cerebral cortex of the human brain. [PRNewswire]



POLICY NEWS


National Institutes of Health (United States)

Food and Drug Administration (United States)

Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (United States)

European Medicines Agency (European Union)

Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (United Kingdom)

Therapeutic Goods Administration (Australia)



EVENTS (Listed by Date)


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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