Volume 5.05 | Feb 9

     In this issue: Science News | Current Publications | Industry News | Policy News | Events
TOP STORY

Fluorescent Peptides Help Nerves Glow in Surgery
Accidental damage to thin or buried nerves during surgery can have severe consequences, from chronic pain to permanent paralysis. Scientists
may have found a remedy: injectable fluorescent peptides that cause hard-to-see peripheral nerves to glow, alerting surgeons to their location even before the nerves are encountered. [Press release from the University of California, San Diego discussing online prepublication in Nature Biotechnology]

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SCIENCE NEWS

Protein May Be Key to New Treatment in Neuroblastoma
After analyzing hundreds of proteins produced by the DNA of tumor cells, researchers have identified one protein that may be central to a new treatment for the often-fatal childhood cancer neuroblastoma. [Press release from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia discussing online prepublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]

Drug Originally Intended for Diabetes May Help Alzheimer’s Patients: U of A Medical Researcher
A researcher has discovered that a drug originally intended for diabetes may hold promise in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. A team discovered that the drug AC253, developed for diabetes but never put on the market, blocked the toxic effects of a protein that is deposited in large quantities in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. [Press release from the University of Alberta discussing online prepublication in the American Journal of Pathology]

Learning Causes Structural Changes In Affected Neurons
When a laboratory rat learns how to reach for and grab a food pellet – a pretty complex and unnatural act for a rodent – the acquired knowledge significantly alters the structure of the specific brain cells involved, which sprout a whopping 22 percent more dendritic spines connecting them to other motor neurons. The finding underscores the brain’s remarkable ability to physically change as it learns (not just in rats, but presumably in humans too), but also reveals that the effect is surprisingly restricted to the network of neurons actually involved in the learning. [Press release from the University of California, San Diego discussing online prepublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]   

Schizophrenia Gene Mutation Found; Target for New Drugs
In a major advance for schizophrenia research, an international team of scientists has identified a gene mutation strongly linked to the brain disorder – and a signaling pathway that may be treatable with existing compounds. [University of California, San Diego Press Release]

Brain ‘Maps’ Reveal Clue to Mental Decline
Australian researchers have mapped the brain’s neural networks and for the first time linked them with specific cognitive functions, such as information processing and language. [Press release from The University of New South Wales discussing online prepublication in The Journal of Neuroscience]

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CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)

Fluorescent Peptides Highlight Peripheral Nerves During Surgery in Mice
Fluorescence highlighting is independent of axonal integrity, suggesting that the probe could facilitate surgical repair of injured nerves and help prevent accidental transection. [Nat Biotechnol]

Phosphorylation of SCG10/Stathmin-2 Determines Multipolar Stage Exit and Neuronal Migration Rate
Researchers found that JNK1 was highly active in developing cortex and that selective inhibition of JNK in the cytoplasm markedly increased both the frequency of exit from the multipolar stage and radial migration rate and ultimately led to an ill-defined cellular organization. [Nat Neurosci]

Timing of Neurogenesis is a Determinant of Olfactory Circuitry
Using a battery of methods, including various markers of cell division in combination with tracers of neuronal connections and time-lapse live imaging, researchers found that early- and late-generated mouse mitral cells became differentially distributed in the dorsal and ventral subdivisions of the odorant receptor map. [Nat Neurosci]

RNAi Screen of the Protein Kinome Identifies Checkpoint Kinase 1 (CHK1) as a Therapeutic Target in Neuroblastoma
Neuroblastoma is a childhood cancer that is often fatal despite intense multimodality therapy. In an effort to identify therapeutic targets for this disease, researchers performed a comprehensive loss-of-function screen of the protein kinome. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Geminin Promotes Neural Fate Acquisition of Embryonic Stem Cells by Maintaining Chromatin in an Accessible and Hyperacetylated State
Here researchers assessed the role for Geminin, a nuclear protein expressed in embryonic cells, during neural fate acquisition from mouse embryonic stem cells. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Structural Plasticity within Highly Specific Neuronal Populations Identifies a Unique Parcellation of Motor Learning in the Adult Brain
Researchers hypothesized that structural elaborations during learning are restricted to discrete subsets of cells preferentially activated by, and relevant to, novel experience. Accordingly, they examined corticospinal motor neurons segregated on the basis of their distinct descending projection patterns, and their contribution to specific aspects of motor control during a forelimb skilled grasping task in adult rats. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Discrete Neuroanatomical Networks Are Associated with Specific Cognitive Abilities in Old Age
Researchers found that the efficiency of the whole brain network of cortical fiber connections had an influence on processing speed and visuospatial and executive functions. Correlations between connectivity of specific regions and cognitive assessments were also observed, e.g., stronger connectivity in regions such as superior frontal gyrus and posterior cingulate cortex were associated with better executive function. [J Neurosci]  

Generation of Subtype-Specific Neurons from Postnatal Astroglia of the Mouse Cerebral Cortex
Instructing glial cells to generate neurons may prove to be a strategy to replace neurons that have degenerated. Here, researchers describe a robust protocol for the efficient in vitro conversion of postnatal astroglia from the mouse cerebral cortex into functional, synapse-forming neurons. [Nat Protoc]

Actions of Beta-Amyloid Protein on Human Neurons Are Expressed through the Amylin Receptor
Here researchers show that in primary cultures of human fetal neurons (HFNs), AC253, an amylin receptor antagonist, blocks electrophysiological effects of amyloid beta protein. [Am J Pathol]


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INDUSTRY NEWS

Stem Cell Leader Awarded $2.3 Million Grant for Parkinson’s: Stem Cell Based Treatment to Focus on Parkinson’s Disease
The Salk Institute has been awarded a $2.3 million grant by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) for translational research focusing on developing a novel stem cell based therapy for Parkinson’s disease. [Salk Institute for Biological Studies]

Apeiron Acquires Rights for a Phase II Biologic Against Neuroblastoma and Other Cancers from Merck KGaA, Germany
Vienna-based biotech company Apeiron Biologics AG strengthens its cancer immunotherapy portfolio by acquiring rights to further develop and commercialize the immunocytokine hu14.18-IL2 from Merck KGaA, Germany. [Apeiron Biologics AG Press Release]

Allon Announces Davunetide Improves Motor Function and Brain Pathology in a Parkinson’s Disease Model
Allon Therapeutics Inc. announced that a research project funded by the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) for Parkinson’s Research found that intranasal davunetide treatment significantly improved motor function and brain pathology in a mouse model which replicates certain characteristics of Parkinson’s disease. [Allon Therapeutics Inc. Press Release]

Major Step Taken Toward an Open and Shared Digital Brain Atlasing Framework
A standard toolset that allows different types of neuroscience data to be combined and compared, is now available for one of the most important subjects in experimental neuroscience: the mouse, Mus musculus. [EurekAlert!]

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 Winter Neuropeptide Conference
March 13-16, 2011
Liverpool, United Kingdom

NEW Gordon Research Conferences – Dendrites: Molecules, Structure & Function
March 13-18, 2011
Ventura, United States

NEW The Eighteenth Annual Cognitive Neuroscience Society Meeting
April 2-5, 2011
San Francisco, United States

NEW Advances in Stem Cell Research: Development, Regeneration and Disease
April 6-8, 2011
Paris, France

NEW The British Neuroscience Association Meeting, 2011
April 17-20, 2011
Harrogate, United Kingdom

NEW Physiology 2011: Cellular & Integrative Neuroscience Themed Meeting
July 11-14, 2011
Oxford, United Kingdom

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

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

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)

Field Applications Specialist – Cell Therapy (Pall Corporation) 


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