Volume 4.45 | Nov 17

Neural Cell News 4.45, November 17, 2010.
In this issue:  Science News |  Current Publications |  Industry News |  Policy News |  Events
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TOP STORY

How do Neural Stem Cells Decide What to Be — and When? ShareThis
Researchers at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore have uncovered a novel feedback mechanism that controls the delicate balance of brain stem cells. Zif, a newly discovered protein, controls whether brain stem cells renew themselves as stem cells or differentiate into a dedicated type of neuron. [Press release from EurekAlert! discussing online prepublication in Developmental Cell]

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SCIENCE NEWS

World First In-Human Stem Cell Trial Begins in Glasgow
The first patient has been treated with stem cell therapy in a ground-breaking UK clinical trial led by the University of Glasgow, it was announced. The PISCES study, Pilot Investigation of Stem Cells in Stroke, is the world’s first fully regulated clinical trial of a neural stem cell therapy for disabled stroke patients. [The University of Glasgow Press Release]

New Technology Allows Medical Workers to Better Assess Brain Injuries
A Queen’s University neuroscientist is launching a medical tool at the world’s largest neuroscience conference in San Diego. The new technology, invented by Stephen Scott, is the only objective tool for assessing brain function, and clinical researchers need this tool to develop better therapies for treating brain injury or disease. [Queen’s University Press Release]

Food for Thought: Liquorice Root May Protect Brain Cells
A neuroscientist at the University of South Carolina is conducting research on a compound found in liquorice root that could prevent or slow down the cell death associated with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. [University of South Carolina Press Release]

UCSD Researchers Create Autistic Neuron Model
Using induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with Rett syndrome, scientists have created functional neurons that provide the first human cellular model for studying the development of autism spectrum disorder and could be used as a tool for drug screening, diagnosis and personalized treatment. [Press release from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) discussing online prepublication in Cell]

Prenatal Exposure to Nicotine Affects Stem Cells in Hippocampus
Prolonged prenatal exposure to nicotine decreases the number of newborn cells in the hippocampus, according to preliminary research presented at Neuroscience 2010, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego. The study offers a neurobiological explanation for why the children of women who smoke during pregnancy are at an increased risk of developing learning disabilities. [Press release from EurekAlert! discussing research presented at Neuroscience 2010, San Diego]

Study Seeks New Way to Enhance Neuron Repair in Spinal Cord Injury
If researchers could determine how to send signals to cells responding to a spinal cord injury, they might be able to stop one type of cell from doing additional damage at the injury site and instead, coax it into helping nerve cells grow. That is the theory behind new research at Ohio State University, where scientists are trying to determine how to simultaneously stop damage and promote neuron growth with a single, targeted signal. [Press release from Ohio State University discussing research presented at Neuroscience 2010, San Diego]
 
Rett Syndrome Mobilizes Jumping Genes in the Brain
With few exceptions, jumping genes-restless bits of DNA that can move freely about the genome-are forced to stay put. In patients with Rett syndrome, however, a mutation in the MeCP2 gene mobilizes so-called L1 retrotransposons in brain cells, reshuffling their genomes and possibly contributing to the symptoms of the disease when they find their way into active genes, report researchers. [Press release from EurekAlert! discussing online prepublication in Nature]


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CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)

L1 Retrotransposition in Neurons is Modulated by MeCP2
The data demonstrate that L1 retrotransposition can be controlled in a tissue-specific manner and that disease-related genetic mutations can influence the frequency of neuronal L1 retrotransposition. [Nature]

A Model for Neural Development and Treatment of Rett Syndrome Using Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
Using Rett syndrome (RTT) as an autism spectrum disorders genetic model, researchers developed a culture system using induced pluripotent stem cells from RTT patients’ fibroblasts. [Cell]

Interplay between the Transcription Factor Zif and aPKC Regulates Neuroblast Polarity and Self-Renewal
Here, researchers have identified a zinc-finger protein, Zif, which is required for the expression and asymmetric localization of aPKC. aPKC displays ectopic cortical localization with upregulated protein levels in dividing zif mutant neuroblasts, leading to neuroblast overproliferation. [Dev Cell]

TAp73 Acts via the bHLH Hey2 to Promote Long-Term Maintenance of Neural Precursors
Previous findings, and the link between the p53 family, stem cells, and aging, suggest that TAp73 might play a previously unanticipated role in maintenance of neural stem cells. Here, researchers have tested this hypothesis and show that TAp73 ensures normal adult neurogenesis by promoting the long-term maintenance of neural stem cells. [Curr Biol]

Neural Crest Origin of Olfactory Ensheathing Glia
Here, using fate-mapping techniques in chicken embryos and genetic lineage tracing in mice, researchers show that olfactory ensheathing cells in fact originate from the neural crest and hence share a common developmental heritage with Schwann cells. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

p73 Is an Essential Regulator of Neural Stem Cell Maintenance in Embryonal and Adult CNS Neurogenesis
In this study, researchers define a novel essential role of p73 in the regulation of the neural stem cell compartment. [Cell Death Differ]

Prospective Identification and Isolation of Enteric Nervous System (ENS) Progenitors Using SOX2
Previous microarray experiments identified the neural progenitor and stem cell marker SOX2 as expressed in the embryonic ENS. Researchers now show that SOX2 is expressed in the ENS from embryonic to adult stages, and constitutes a novel marker of ENS progenitor cells and their glial cell derivatives. [Stem Cells]

Design of Culture Substrates for Large-Scale Expansion of Neural Stem Cells
Here researchers report the design of culture substrates that allow highly selective and rapid expansion of neural stem cells. [Biomaterials]

Lgi4 Promotes the Proliferation and Differentiation of Glial Lineage Cells throughout the Developing Peripheral Nervous System
The mechanisms that regulate peripheral nervous system gliogenesis are incompletely understood. For example, gut neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) do not respond to known gliogenic factors, suggesting that yet-unidentified factors regulate gut gliogenesis. To identify new mechanisms, researchers performed gene expression profiling to identify factors secreted by gut NCSCs during the gliogenic phase of development. [J Neurosci]
 



INDUSTRY NEWS


Syntaxin Raises GBP18 Million in New Financing
Syntaxin announces it has successfully raised GBP18 million in new funding. New investors Lundbeckfond Ventures, Ipsen and Seventure joined existing investors Abingworth, SROne, LSP, Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC) and Quest, which all participated in the Series C financing. [Syntaxin Press Release]

Ceregene Raises $11.5 Million in Series D Financing
Ceregene, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, announced that it has closed its Series D preferred financing in the amount of $11.5 million. [Ceregene, Inc. Press Release]

Neurologix Reports Third Quarter 2010 Financial Results
Neurologix, Inc., a biotechnology company developing innovative gene therapies for the brain and central nervous system, reported its financial results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2010. [Neurologix, Inc. Press Release]

AAN Names 31 Neurologists to Attend the 2011 Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum
Thirty-one neurologists from around the world have been selected to attend the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) award-winning Donald M. Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum, January 13-16, 2011, in San Diego, California. [Newswise]

Neuralstem Reports Third Quarter Financial Results and Provides Business and Clinical Update
Neuralstem, Inc. reported its financial results for the three months and nine months period ended September 30, 2010 and provided a business and clinical update. [Neuralstem, Inc. Press Release]

Neuralstem Files FDA Application for First Drug Therapy NSI-189 for the Treatment of Major Depression
Neuralstem, Inc. announced that it has filed an Investigational New Drug application with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin two Phase I safety trials to test NSI-189, its first small molecule compound, for the treatment of major depression. [Neuralstem, Inc. Press Release]

MedGenesis Therapeutix Reacquires Rights for GDNF
MedGenesis Therapeutix Inc. announced that it has regained all rights to glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) protein and related Convection Enhanced Delivery (CED) technology from Biovail Laboratories International SRL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International, Inc. [MedGenesis Therapeutix Inc. Press Release]

PrecisionMed Announces Longitudinal Multiple Sclerosis and Clinically Isolated Syndrome Spinal Fluid Biological Sample Registry
PrecisionMed Inc. announced at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego, enrollment of the first subject into the PrecisionMed Multiple Sclerosis Registry. [PrecisionMed Inc. Press Release]

Positive Outcome for VR040 in Parkinson’s Trial
Vectura Group announces positive data from a Phase II clinical study for its inhalation product, VR040, for the treatment of “off” episodes (periods of inability to control movement) in patients with fluctuating Parkinson’s disease. [Therapeutics Daily]

Nautilus Neurosciences and Tribute Pharmaceuticals Announce Exclusive Canadian License for CAMBIA™ (diclofenac potassium for oral solution) For the Acute Treatment of Migraine
Nautilus Neurosciences, Inc., a neurology-focused specialty pharmaceutical company, and Tribute Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held Canadian specialty pharmaceutical company, announced their exclusive license agreement for the commercialization of CAMBIA™ (diclofenac potassium for oral solution) in Canada. [Nautilus Neurosciences, Inc. Press Release]



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)


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.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES


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Lab Technologist – Tissue Culture (STEMCELL Technologies)

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Business Manager – Centre for Blood Cell Therapies (Cell Therapies Pty Ltd)

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