Volume 5.06 | Feb 16

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

Scripps Research Study Presents Surprising View of Brain Formation
A study has unveiled a surprising mechanism that controls brain formation. In the new study, scientists focused on a protein called reelin.
They found reelin is a key player in the migration of new nerve cells to the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher-order functions, such as language and movement. [Press release from The Scripps Research Institute discussing online prepublication in Neuron]



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Sugar Residues Regulate Growth and Survival of Nerve Cells
Researchers in Bochum have found out that certain sugar residues in the spinal cord regulate the growth and survival of nerve cells which control the movement of muscles. [Press release from ScienceDaily discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Neuroscience Research]

Researchers Find Reduced Levels of an Important Neurotransmitter in MS
Researchers have shown for the first time that damage to a particular area of the brain and a consequent reduction in noradrenaline are associated with multiple sclerosis. [Press release from the University of Illinois at Chicago discussing online prepublication in Brain]

New Hybrid Drug Derived from Common Spice, May Protect, Rebuild Brain Cells After Stroke
Scientists created a new molecule from curcumin, a chemical component of the golden-colored spice turmeric, and found in laboratory experiments that it affects mechanisms that protect and help regenerate brain cells after stroke. [Press release from Cedars-Sinai discussing data presented at the American Heart Association International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles]

SLU Research Implicates Natural Toxin as Triggering Parkinson’s Disease
In new research, investigators have found evidence that a toxin produced by the brain is responsible for the series of cellular events that lead to Parkinson’s disease. The study found that the brain toxin DOPAL plays a key role in killing the dopamine neurons which trigger the illness. [Press release from Saint Louis University discussing online prepublication in PLoS ONE]

Scripps Research Compound Blocks Brain Cell Destruction in Parkinson’s Disease  
Scientists have produced the first known compound to show significant effectiveness in protecting brain cells directly affected by
Parkinson’s disease. [Press release from The Scripps Research Institute discussing online prepublication in ACS Chemical Neuroscience]


CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)

Challenges and Opportunities in Mining Neuroscience Data
Here researchers discuss the need for neuroinformatics approaches to accelerate progress, using several illustrative examples. [Science]

A Reservoir of Time Constants for Memory Traces in Cortical Neurons
The findings suggest a flexible memory system in which neural subpopulations with distinct sets of long or short memory timescales may be selectively deployed according to the task demands. [Nat Neurosci]

Reelin Regulates Cadherin Function via Dab1/Rap1 to Control Neuronal Migration and Lamination in the Neocortex
Here, researchers show that Dab1, an essential component of the reelin pathway, is required in radially migrating neurons for glia-independent somal translocation, but not for glia-guided locomotion. [Neuron]

Locus Coeruleus Damage and Noradrenaline Reductions in Multiple Sclerosis and Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis
Since the major source of noradrenaline are neurons in the locus coeruleus, researchers hypothesized that alterations in noradrenaline levels are a consequence of stress or damage to locus coeruleus neurons. [Brain]

DAPK Activates MARK1/2 to Regulate Microtubule Assembly, Neuronal Differentiation, and Tau Toxicity
The study reveals a novel mechanism of MARK activation, uncovers DAPK functions in modulating microtubule assembly and neuronal differentiation, and provides a molecular link of DAPK to tau phosphorylation, an event associated with Alzheimer’s disease pathology. [Cell Death Differ]

Conditional Activation of Bmi1 Expression Regulates Self Renewal, Apoptosis and Differentiation of Neural Stem/Progenitor Cells In Vitro and In Vivo
In a Cre/LoxP-based conditional transgenic mouse model researchers show that fine-tuning of Bmi1 expression in embryonic neural stem cells is sufficient to increase their proliferation and self renewal potential both in vitro and in vivo. [Stem Cells]

Small Molecule Kinase Inhibitor Screen Identifies Polo-Like Kinase 1 as a Target for Neuroblastoma Tumor-Initiating Cells
To identify signaling pathways important for the survival and self-renewal of neuroblastoma tumor-initiating cells and potential therapeutic targets, researchers screened a small molecule library of 143 protein kinase inhibitors, including 33 in clinical trials. [Cancer Res]

CRMP5 (Collapsin Response Mediator Protein 5) Regulates Dendritic Development and Synaptic Plasticity in the Cerebellar Purkinje Cells
To examine the in vivo function of CRMP5, researchers generated crmp5-deficient (crmp5–/–) mice. Anti-calbindin immunofluorescence studies of crmp5–/– mice revealed aberrant dendrite morphology; specifically, a decrease in the size of soma and diameter of primary dendrite of the cerebellar Purkinje cells at postnatal day 21 (P21) and P28, but not at P14. [J Neurosci]

The Neurotoxicity of DOPAL: Behavioral and Stereological Evidence for Its Role in Parkinson Disease Pathogenesis
Researchers examined the consequences of injections of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde (DOPAL), a toxic metabolite of dopamine, into the substantia nigra of rats on motor behavior and neuronal survival. [PLoS ONE]

Influence of Glial-Derived Matrix Molecules, Especially Chondroitin Sulfates, on Neurite Growth and Survival of Cultured Mouse Embryonic Motoneurons
Because of interest in the effects of glial-derived chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, researchers have worked out a model system for investigating the influences of glial-derived matrix molecules on motoneuron outgrowth and survival. [J Neurosci Res]

Small Molecule c-jun-N-Terminal Kinase Inhibitors Protect Dopaminergic Neurons in a Model of Parkinson’s Disease
In the current work, researchers report the first highly selective, orally bioavailable c-jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor for protection of dopaminergic neurons in vitro and in vivo. [ACS Chem Neurosci]


Ceregene Reports New Findings Regarding How Parkinson’s Brains Respond to Neurotrophic Factors
Ceregene, Inc., reported that its scientists and collaborators have published new experimental findings in support of its Parkinson’s disease program. The publication reports the first evidence that gene transfer can provide targeted expression of a neurotrophic factor, i.e., neurturin or NRTN, intended to restore and preserve dying neurons. [Ceregene, Inc. Press Release]

Neuralstem Receives FDA Orphan Designation for Spinal Cord Stem Cells for Treatment of ALS
Neuralstem, Inc. announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Orphan Products Development has granted it orphan drug designation for the treatment of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) with its human spinal cord derived neural stem cells (NSI-566RSC), currently in a Phase I safety study to evaluate the safety of the product and the surgical route of administration in a wide range of ALS patients. [Neuralstem, Inc. Press Release]

Neuralstem Updates ALS Clinical Trial Progress
Neuralstem, Inc. updated the progress of its ongoing Phase I human clinical trial of the company’s spinal cord stem cells in the treatment of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. [Neuralstem, Inc. Press Release]

Salk Institute Celebrates Grand Opening of the Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center
The Waitt Advanced Biophotonics Center at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies officially opens on February 9, 2011 after quietly hiring two faculty members specializing in biophotonics—the science of using and manipulating light to investigate biological function—and building up its core facility’s imaging capacity to rival most if not all academic research institutions of its size in the nation. [Salk Institute for Biological Studies Press Release]

Salk Professor Terrence Sejnowski Elected to National Academy of Engineering
Terry J. Sejnowski, Ph.D., has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an honor considered one of the highest accolades in the engineering world. Dr. Sejnowski, whose work on neural networks helped spark the neural networks revolution in computing in the 1980s, is recognized for his “contributions to artificial and real neural network algorithms and applying signal processing models to neuroscience.” [Salk Institute for Biological Studies Press Release]

Maas Biolab Wins World Cyclosporin Brain Formula Patents
Maas Biolab received United States Patent 7,446,093, European Union Patent 1,091,750 and Patents in India, Canada and New Zealand for its Mitogard(R) cyclosporin formulas. Mitogard(R) is designed for central nervous system delivery to treat neurodegenerative diseases, in particular amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. [Mass Biolab Press Release]

Cuts Disastrous for Brain Science Research, Academics Warn
The closure of drug company research facilities and “draconian” funding cuts will have a disastrous impact on brain science in Britain, senior academics have warned. [The Guardian]

Setting the Record Straight on Neuroscience Funding
The Medical Research Council (MRC) sets the record straight following recent concerns in the research community about the level of investment in neuroscience research in the UK. [Medical Research Council 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)


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