Volume 4.50 | Dec 22

Neural Cell News 4.50, December 22, 2010.
In this issue:  Science News |  Current Publications |  Industry News |  Policy News |  Events
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Tau Disrupts Neural Communication Prior to Neurodegeneration ShareThis
A new study is unraveling the earliest events associated with neurodegenerative diseases characterized by abnormal accumulation of tau protein. The research reveals how tau disrupts neuronal communication at synapses and may help to guide development of therapeutic strategies that precede irreversible neuronal degeneration. [Press release from EurekAlert! discussing online prepublication in Neuron]



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Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells Found to Enhance Survival and Maturation of Key Brain Cells
Laboratory culture (in vitro ) studies examining the activity of human umbilical cord blood cells (HUCB) on experimental models of central nervous system aging, injury and disease, have shown that HUCBs provide a ‘trophic effect’ (nutritional effect) that enhances survival and maturation of hippocampal neurons harvested from both young and old laboratory animals. [Press release from ScienceDaily discussing online prepublication in Aging and Disease]

Genome Code Cracked for Most Common Form of Pediatric Brain Cancer
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have deciphered the genetic code for medulloblastoma, the most common pediatric brain cancer and a leading killer of children with cancer.  The genetic “map” is believed to be the first reported of a pediatric cancer genome. [Press release from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center discussing online prepublication in Science]

NIH-Led Study Identifies Genetic Variant that can Lead to Severe Impulsivity
A multinational research team led by scientists at the National Institutes of Health has found that a genetic variant of a brain receptor molecule may contribute to violently impulsive behavior when people who carry it are under the influence of alcohol. [Press release from the National Institutes of Health discussing online prepublication in Nature]

The Genetic Basis of Brain Diseases
In research published recently, scientists have studied human brain samples to isolate a set of proteins that accounts for over 130 brain diseases. The study also shows an intriguing link between diseases and the evolution of the human brain. [The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Press Release]

U of A Researcher and American Colleague Pinpoint How to Reduce Anxiety
Researchers have discovered that blocking a process in nerve cells reduces anxiety, meaning a new drug could now be developed to better treat anxiety disorders. [Press release from the University of Alberta discussing online prepublication in The Journal of Neuroscience]


CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)

A Population-Specific HTR2B Stop Codon Predisposes to Severe Impulsivity
Here researchers perform exon-focused sequencing of impulsive individuals in a founder population, targeting fourteen genes belonging to the serotonin and dopamine domain. [Nature]

The Genetic Landscape of the Childhood Cancer Medulloblastoma
Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant brain tumor of children. To identify the genetic alterations in this tumor type, researchers searched for copy number alterations using high-density microarrays and sequenced all known protein-coding genes and miRNA genes using Sanger sequencing in a set of 22 MBs. [Science]

Tau Mislocalization to Dendritic Spines Mediates Synaptic Dysfunction Independently of Neurodegeneration
Here, researchers show that early tau-related deficits develop not from the loss of synapses or neurons, but rather as a result of synaptic abnormalities caused by the accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau within intact dendritic spines, where it disrupts synaptic function by impairing glutamate receptor trafficking or synaptic anchoring. [Neuron]

Regulation of GABAergic Synapse Formation and Plasticity by GSK3(beta)-Dependent Phosphorylation of Gephyrin
Here, researchers focused on gephyrin, the main scaffolding protein of GABAergic synapses. They identify a unique phosphorylation site in gephyrin, Ser270, targeted by glycogen synthase kinase 3(beta) [GSK3(beta)] to modulate GABAergic transmission. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Calcium-Dependent Activator Protein for Secretion 2 (CAPS2) Promotes BDNF Secretion and is Critical for the Development of GABAergic Interneuron Network
Here researchers reveal the role of CAPS2 in the regulated secretion of BDNF and show the effect of CAPS2 on the development of hippocampal GABAergic systems. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Regulation of Synaptic Stability by AMPA Receptor Reverse Signaling
Here researchers report that postsynaptic AMPA receptors play a critical role in regulating the stability of glutamatergic synapses. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

NKX2.2 Suppresses Self Renewal of Glioma-Initiating Cells
In this study, researchers report the development of mouse models for spontaneous gliomas representing distinct progressive stages of disease that are governed by defined genetic alterations. [Cancer Res]

Countervailing Modulation of I(h) by Neuropeptide Y and Corticotrophin-Releasing Factor in Basolateral Amygdala As a Possible Mechanism for Their Effects on Stress-Related Behaviors
In these studies, researchers examined mechanisms underlying the effects of neuropeptide Y and corticotrophin-releasing factor in the basolateral amygdala using whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology in rat brain slices. [J Neurosci]

Dopamine D1-Histamine H3 Receptor Heteromers Provide a Selective Link to the Map-Kinase Signalling in Gabaergic Neurons of the Direct Striatal Pathway
Researchers show that the dopamine D1 receptor-histamine H3 receptor heteromer exists in the brain and serves to provide a novel link between the Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathway and the GABAergic neurons in the direct striatal efferent pathway. [J Biol Chem]

Human Umbilical Cord Blood Cells Have Trophic Effects on Young and Aging Hippocampal Neurons In Vitro
In experimental models of central nervous system aging, injury and disease, administering human umbilical cord blood (HUCB) cells induce recovery, most likely by interacting with multiple cellular processes.  The aim of this study was to examine whether the HUCB cells produce trophic factors that may enhance survival and maturation of hippocampal neurons in an in vitro test system. [Aging and Disease]


ReNeuron Gives Update on Progress of Stroke Stem Cell Clinical Trial
ReNeuron Group plc is pleased to announce that, following a positive independent safety review of progress of the first patient treated in the PISCES clinical trial of ReNeuron’s ReN001 stem cell therapy for stroke, the clinical trial will now progress to treatment of the remainder of the first patient cohort. [ReNeuron Group plc Press Release]

Biogen Idec Acquires a Subsidiary of Neurimmune
Biogen Idec and Neurimmune Holding AG announced that Biogen Idec has acquired a subsidiary of Neurimmune, which includes the world-wide rights to three pre-clinical immunotherapy programs. The three programs are focused on the discovery and development of novel human antibodies that address three central nervous system targets: alpha-synuclein, tau and TDP-43. [Neurimmune Press Release]

TauRx Granted European Composition of Matter Patent for Lead Compound in Treatment and Prevention of Neurodegenerative Diseases including Alzheimer’s Disease
TauRx Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a leader in the discovery and development of drugs and diagnostics that provide new treatment options for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, announced that it has been granted a European patent for its lead compound LMTX, a next generation treatment for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases associated with Tau protein mis-folding. [Biospace Press Release]

Neurotez, Inc., Announced That It Has Contracted with Paragon Bioservices, Inc. for the Manufacturing of a Leptin Product for the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Cognitive Disorders
Neurotez, Inc., announced that it has developed two (2) Leptin products for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders and has contracted with Paragon Bioservices, Inc. for process optimization and GMP manufacturing of one of these products. [Paragon Bioservices, Inc. Press Release]

DiaGenic and Pfizer to Collaborate on Blood Based Biomarkers for Early Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
DiaGenic ASA and Pfizer Inc. signed an agreement for explorative R&D collaboration to identify biomarkers in early stages of Alzheimer’s disease using DiaGenic’s patented gene expression technology and its blood samples from ongoing clinical studies. [DiaGenic Press Release]

Richard W. Tsien, DPhil, to Be Inaugural Director of New Neuroscience Institute and Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience
NYU Langone Medical Center announced that it has appointed internationally renowned scientist and leader Richard W. Tsien, DPhil, as the first director of the Neuroscience Institute and the Druckenmiller Professor of Neuroscience, effective January 2012. [NYU Langone Medical Center Press Release]

Neuralstem Receives FDA Approval to Commence Drug Trial for Major Depression
Neuralstem, Inc. announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its Investigational New Drug application to initiate a Phase Ia safety trial to test NSI-189, its first small molecule compound, in major depression. [Neuralstem, Inc. Press Release]

VistaGen Therapeutics Announces Successful Completion of Initial Phase 1 Safety Study of AV-101 for Neuropathic Pain
VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc., a stem cell technology company focused on drug discovery and development, announced the successful completion of its initial Phase 1 safety study of AV-101, the Company’s novel orally available prodrug candidate for treatment of neuropathic pain. [VistaGen Therapeutics, Inc. Press Release]

Proximagen Acquires Two CNS Drug Development Programmes from GlaxoSmithKline
Proximagen Group plc, the rapidly growing company with a principal focus on the treatment of disorders of the central nervous system (“CNS”), announced that it has signed an exclusive agreement with GlaxoSmithKline to acquire the global rights to two drug development programmes. [Proximagen Group plc Press Release]


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)

NEW Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s 10th Annual World Pharma Congress
June 7-9, 2011
Philadelphia, United States

Visit our events page to stay up to date with the latest events in the neural cell community.


Lab Technologist – Cell Separation (STEMCELL Technologies)

Lab Technologist – Human Embryonic and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (STEMCELL Technologies)

Lab Technologist – Tissue Culture (STEMCELL Technologies)

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