Volume 5.02 | Jan 19

Neural Cell News 5.02, January 19, 2011.
In this issue:  Science News |  Current Publications |  Industry News |  Policy News |  Events
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TOP STORY

Interactions of Three Proteins Might Disrupt Neural Network in Alzheimer’s ShareThis
Though the cause of Alzheimer’s disease still is unknown, recent studies have implicated three proteins strongly in its onset. New research indicates that interactions between those three proteins might lead to brain dysfunction and AD in a mouse model of the disease. [Press release from the University of Alabama at Birmingham discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Neuroscience]

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SCIENCE NEWS


New Molecule Could Save Brain Cells from Neurodegeneration, Stroke
Researchers have discovered a molecule that can make brain cells resistant to programmed cell death or apoptosis. [Press release from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discussing online prepublication in Genes & Development]

Molecular Battle in Cancer Cells Offers Clues for Treatment
Researchers investigating a genetic mutation in brain cancer and leukemia patients have discovered how one cancer metabolite battles another normal metabolite to contribute cancer development. Helping the “good guys” win that battle could yield new approaches for treatment. [Press release from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discussing online prepublication in Cancer Cell]  
 
UBC-Vancouver Coastal Health Researchers Find Critical Link between Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers have discovered that the genetic mechanism which destroys brain cells is responsible for early development of Alzheimer’s Disease in people with Down Syndrome and for development of Alzheimer’s Disease in general population – providing a potential new target for drugs that could forestall dementia in people with either condition. [Press release from the University of British Columbia discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Biological Chemistry]

LCD Projector Used to Control Brains & Muscles of Tiny Organisms
Researchers are using inexpensive components from ordinary liquid crystal display (LCD) projectors to control the brains and muscles of tiny organisms, including freely moving worms. [Press release from Georgia Institute of Technology discussing online prepublication in Nature Methods]
 
The Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute Identifies Groundbreaking New Therapies for Prevention and Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
The BRNI study is the first to achieve fundamental molecular understanding of how synapses are lost in Alzheimer’s Disease before the plaques and tangles develop. At the same time, it is the first study to demonstrate the comprehensive benefits of synaptogenic compounds in treating Alzheimer’s Disease. [Press release from the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Neuroscience]
 
Mapping Neurons: VCU School of Medicine Researchers Identify Mechanism that Regulates how Neural Circuits between the Retina and Brain Form
Researchers have identified a mechanism that regulates the formation of a specific neural circuit, taking researchers a step closer to understanding how the human brain works. [Press release from Virginia Commonwealth University discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Neuroscience]

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CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)


Oncometabolite 2-Hydroxyglutarate Is a Competitive Inhibitor of Alpha-Ketoglutarate-Dependent Dioxygenases
Here researchers demonstrate that 2-hydroxyglutarate (HG) is a competitive inhibitor of multiple alpha-ketoglutarate (KG)-dependent dioxygenases, including histone demethylases and the TET family of 5-methlycytosine (5mC) hydroxylases. 2-HG occupies the same space as alpha-KG does in the active site of histone demethylases. [Cancer Cell]

Real-Time Multimodal Optical Control of Neurons and Muscles in Freely Behaving Caenorhabditis elegans
Researchers present a real-time, multimodal illumination technology that allows both tracking and recording the behavior of freely moving C. elegans while stimulating specific cells that express channelrhodopsin-2 or MAC. [Nat Methods]

miR-29b is Activated During Neuronal Maturation and Targets BH3-Only Genes to Restrict Apoptosis
Here researchers show that a microRNA, miR-29b, is markedly induced with neuronal maturation and functions as a novel inhibitor of neuronal apoptosis. [Genes Dev]

Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres in Human Glioma Stem Cells
The data show for the first time that the alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) pathway can confer to cancer stem cells the capacity to sustain long-term proliferation as telomerase activity and importantly may also affect treatment efficiency. [Stem Cells]

Amyloid-Beta/Fyn-Induced Synaptic, Network, and Cognitive Impairments Depend on Tau Levels in Multiple Mouse Models of Alzheimer’s Disease
Results indicate that A-beta, tau, and Fyn jointly impair synaptic and network function and suggest that disrupting the copathogenic relationship between these factors could be of therapeutic benefit. [J Neurosci]

Reelin Is Required for Class-Specific Retinogeniculate Targeting
The data reveal that reelin is essential for the targeting of lateral geniculate nucleus subnuclei by functionally distinct classes of retinal ganglion cells. [J Neurosci]

PKC(varepsilon) Activation Prevents Synaptic Loss, A(beta) Elevation, and Cognitive Deficits in Alzheimer’s Disease Transgenic Mice
Among the pathologic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) neurodegeneration, only synaptic loss in the brains of AD patients closely correlates with the degree of dementia in vivo. Here, researchers describe a molecular basis for this AD loss of synapses: pathological reduction of synaptogenic PKC isozymes and their downstream synaptogenic substrates, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor. [J Neurosci]

Regulator of Calcineurin 1 (RCAN1) Facilitates Neuronal Apoptosis through Caspase 3 Activation
Here researchers show that overexpression of RCAN1-1 in primary neurons activates caspase-9 and caspase-3, and subsequently induces neuronal apoptosis. [J Biol Chem]

Neural Stem and Progenitor Cells Shorten S-Phase on Commitment to Neuron Production
In this paper, researchers develop a novel approach to determine cell-cycle parameters in specific classes of neural stem and progenitor cells, identified by molecular markers rather than location. [Nat Commun]

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INDUSTRY NEWS


Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute Forges Agreement to Develop Novel Therapeutics for Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders
The Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute (BSi) announced that it has entered into an agreement with Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OMJPI) to advance the development of novel therapeutics for neurological and psychiatric diseases. [Johns Hopkins Medicine Press Release]

J&J Teams Up with Sanford-Burnham on Alzheimer’s Pact
The drug development arm of Johnson & Johnson is joining research forces with scientists at the prestigious Sanford-Burnham Institute in an effort to blaze a relatively short path to new drugs for psychiatric disorders as well as Alzheimer’s. [FierceBiotech]

UAB-HudsonAlpha Partner to Examine Parkinson’s Genes
The UAB-HudsonAlpha Collaborative Project in the Genetics and Genomics of Parkinson Disease is two-fold. Under the direction of David Standaert, M.D., Ph.D. and Rick Myers, Ph.D., the team will use advanced technology to look at gene expression and genetic variation to provide new knowledge about the cause, effects and treatments of Parkinson disease. [University of Alabama Press Release]

Eight Brain, Behavior Researchers are NARSAD Young Investigators
Eight Johns Hopkins University researchers are among 214 new NARSAD Young Investigators with what are considered the most promising ideas to lead to breakthroughs in understanding and treating mental illness. [Johns Hopkins Press Release]

Alexza Pharmaceuticals Completes End-of-Review Meeting With FDA for AZ-004 (Staccato(R) Loxapine) NDA
Alexza Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced that it completed an End-of-Review meeting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) for the AZ-004 New Drug Application (NDA), and has received the official FDA minutes from the meeting. [Alexza Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Press Release]

Scientist Wins Award for Tackling Devastating Brain Disease in Kids
Miguel Sena-Esteves, PhD, associate professor of neurology, was presented with the annual “See the Light” award from the Mathew Forbes Romer Foundation (MFRF) in recognition of his leadership in the fight against children’s genetic diseases of the brain. Dr. Sena-Esteves is investigating the potential of using gene therapy techniques to replace the faulty gene that causes Tay-Sachs disease. [University of Massachusetts 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

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