Volume 5.04 | Feb 2

Neural Cell News 5.04, February 2, 2011.
In this issue:  Science News |  Current Publications |  Industry News |  Policy News |  Events
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TOP STORY

At Last, a Function at the Junction-Salk Researchers Discover that Stem Cell Marker Regulates Synapse Formation  ShareThis
Among stem cell biologists there are few better-known proteins than nestin, whose very presence in an immature cell identifies it as a “stem cell,” such as a neural stem cell. As helpful as this is to researchers, until now no one knew which purpose nestin serves in a cell. Researchers show that nestin has reason for being in a completely different cell type-muscle tissue. There, it regulates formation of the so-called neuromuscular junction. [Press release from the Salk Institute of Biological Studies discussing online prepublication in Nature Neuroscience]

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SPECIAL FEATURE

New Videos Show NIH Studies of Communication between Brain Cells
An NIH researcher has captured video images of a previously unknown form of communication between brain cells that might hold clues to the way learning shapes the brain. [National Institutes of Health Press Release]

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SCIENCE NEWS

Targeted Particle Fools Brain’s Guardian to Reach Tumors
A targeted delivery combination selectively crosses the tight barrier that protects the brain from the bloodstream to home in on and bind to brain tumors, a research team reported. [Press release from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Clinical Investigation]

Scientists Link Protein to the Insulation of the Nervous System’s Wiring
Researchers have pinpointed a crucial function for a key player in the development of the nervous system. They found that this player, a protein called Erk, is necessary for nerve fibers to be wrapped with myelin, which allows messages to be sent from the brain to the peripheral limbs and back again. [Press release from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

Membrane Molecule Keeps Nerve Impulses Hopping
New research describes a key molecular mechanism in nerve fibers that ensures the rapid conductance of nervous system impulses. [Press release from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

Study Shows Map of Brain Connectivity Changes During Development
Connected highways of nerve cells carry information to and from different areas of the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Scientists are trying to draw a complete atlas of these connections-sometimes referred to as the “connectome”-to gain a better understanding of how the brain functions in health and disease. [Press release from The Scripps Research Institute discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

Cancer Drug Aids the Regeneration of Spinal Cord Injuries: Taxol Stabilizes Growing Nerve Cells and Reduces the Barrier-Function of Scar Tissue
After a spinal cord injury a number of factors impede the regeneration of nerve cells. Two of the most important of these factors are the destabilization of the cytoskeleton and the development of scar tissue. While the former prevents regrowth of cells, the latter creates a barrier for severed nerve cells. Scientists have now showed that the cancer drug Taxol reduces both regeneration obstacles. [Press release from the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried discussing online prepublication in Science]

Mount Sinai Researchers Find That Little-Studied Gene May Boost Long-Term Memory and Enhance Cognition
Researchers have identified a therapy that may enhance memory and prevent the loss of long-term memory. The research team evaluated how a protein called insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II), a gene expressed during brain development that declines with aging, impacts memory formation and retention. [Press release from Mount Sinai School of Medicine discussing online prepublication in Nature]
 
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CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)

A Critical Role for IGF-II in Memory Consolidation and Enhancement
Researchers report that, in the rat, administering insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II, also known as IGF2) significantly enhances memory retention and prevents forgetting. [Nature]

Microtubule Stabilization Reduces Scarring and Causes Axon Regeneration After Spinal Cord Injury
Here, moderate microtubule stabilization decreased scar formation after spinal cord injury in rodents via various cellular mechanisms, including dampening of transforming growth factor-beta signaling. [Science]

Amine-Modified Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Protect Neurons from Injury in a Rat Stroke Model
Transplanting scaffolds containing stem cells into the injured areas of the brain has been proposed as a treatment strategy, and carbon nanotubes show promise in this regard, with positive outcomes when used as scaffolds in neural cells and brain tissues. Here, researchers show that pretreating rats with amine-modified single-walled carbon nanotubes can protect neurons and enhance the recovery of behavioural functions in rats with induced stroke. [Nat Nanotechnol]

Systemic Combinatorial Peptide Selection Yields a Non-Canonical Iron-Mimicry Mechanism for Targeting Tumors in a Mouse Model of Human Glioblastoma
Here researchers show that phage particles targeted with certain ligand motifs selected in vivo from a combinatorial peptide library can cross the blood-brain barrier under normal and pathological conditions. [J Clin Invest]

Nestin Negatively Regulates Postsynaptic Differentiation of the Neuromuscular Synapse
The results suggest that nestin is required for acetylcholine (ACh)-induced, Cdk5-dependent dispersion of ACh receptor clusters during neuromuscular junction development. [Nat Neurosci]

Specific Functions for ERK/MAPK Signaling during PNS Development
Researchers have established functions of the stimulus-dependent MAPKs, ERK1/2 and ERK5, in DRG, motor neuron, and Schwann cell development. Surprisingly, many aspects of early DRG and motor neuron development were found to be ERK1/2 independent, and Erk5 deletion had no obvious effect on embryonic PNS. [Neuron]

Nodes of Ranvier Act as Barriers to Restrict Invasion of Flanking Paranodal Domains in Myelinated Axons
Here, researchers report that genetic ablation of the neuron-specific isoform of Neurofascin (NfascNF186) in vivo results in nodal disorganization, including loss of voltage-gated sodium channel and ankyrin-G (AnkG) enrichment at nodes in the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system. [Neuron]

In Vivo Time-Lapse Imaging and Serial Section Electron Microscopy Reveal Developmental Synaptic Rearrangements
By combining in vivo time-lapse imaging of Xenopus tectal neurons with electron microscope reconstructions of imaged neurons, researchers report the distribution and ultrastructure of synapses on individual vertebrate neurons and relate these synaptic properties to dynamics in dendritic and axonal arbor structure over hours or days of imaging. [Neuron]

Investigating Synapse Formation and Function using Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neurons
Scientists describe the establishment of procedures to direct the differentiation of human embryonic stem cells and human induced pluripotent stem cells into forebrain neurons that are capable of forming synaptic connections. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Derivation of Neural Precursor Cells from Human ES Cells at 3% O2 is Efficient, Enhances Survival and Presents No Barrier to Regional Specification and Functional Differentiation
This study investigates whether an ambient environment containing a physiological oxygen level of 3% (normoxia) enables the generation of neural precursor cells (NPCs) from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and whether the resultant NPCs can undergo regional specification and functional maturation. [Cell Death Differ]

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Scientists at UCLA’s Broad Stem Cell Research Center Awarded $3.6 Million in State Grants
Two scientists with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have been awarded more than $3.6 million in state grants to develop innovative tools and technologies that will help overcome technical hurdles in advancing basic, translational and clinical stem cell research. [University of California, Los Angeles Press Release]

Vanderbilt Joins International Project Focused on Alzheimer’s
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and across the globe, announced a multi-national collaboration to discover and map all genes relating to Alzheimer’s disease through the formation of the International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project (IGAP). [Vanderbilt University Medical Center Press Release]

Receptos Initiates Clinical Trials for S1P1 Agonist Program, Aimed at Multiple Sclerosis
Receptos, Inc., announced that their highly selective sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1P1) agonist, RPC1063, has been administered to the first subject in a single-ascending and multiple-ascending dose design Phase 1 clinical safety study. [Receptos, Inc. Press Release]

Eisai to Submit Marketing Authorization Applications in the U.S. and EU for Perampanel as Adjunctive Therapy for Partial Onset Seizures in Patients with Epilepsy
Eisai announced that it will submit Marketing Authorization Applications in the United States and the European Union for the investigational compound perampanel (E2007) based on the results of three Phase III pivotal studies. [Eisai Press Release]

Novartis Gains Approval for Gilenya® as a First-Line Disease Modifying Oral Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis in Switzerland and Australia
Swissmedic, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, and the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have granted approval for Gilenya® (fingolimod) 0.5 mg as a first-line, oral disease-modifying therapy (DMT) for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). [Novartis Press Release]

Merck Canada Invests $5 Million in Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery to Support Biopharmaceutical Research
Merck Canada has renewed its partnership with the Quebec Consortium for Drug Discovery (CQDM) by investing a further $5 million over five years in the organization so it can continue its support of biopharmaceutical research in Quebec. [Merck Canada Press Release]

Neuralstem, Inc. Settles Litigation Against ReNeuron, Ltd.
Neuralstem, Inc. announced that it has reach a settlement with ReNeuron, Ltd. ending litigation between the parties. [Neuralstem, 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

NEW 63rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
April 9-16, 2011
Hawaii, United States

Visit our events page to see a complete list of events in the neural cell community.



JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Lab Technologist – Cell Separation (STEMCELL Technologies)

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

Lab Technologist – Tissue Culture (STEMCELL Technologies)


Assistant Professor (University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering)

PhD Position – Interaction of Nanoparticles with Neural Stem- and Tissue-type Cells (Inst. of Experimental Medicine of Hungarian Acad. Sci. /NanoToes International Training Network)

Stem Cell Biology Scientist (Stanford University)

Tenure Track Faculty Positions in Neuroscience (Mount Sinai School of Medicine)

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