Volume 5.09 | Mar 9

     In this issue: Science News | Current Publications | Industry News | Policy News | Events
Scientists Create Neurons with Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease from Patient’s Skin Cells
Neurons have been derived from the skin of a woman with a genetic form of Parkinson’s disease and have been shown to replicate some key features of the condition in a dish. [Press release from the Stanford School of Medicine discussing online prepublication in Cell Stem Cell]


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Cerebral Spinal Fluid Guides Stem Cell Development in the Brain
Investigators have discovered that cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) contains a complex mix of proteins that changes dramatically with age. In the lab, CSF by itself is enough to support the growth of neural stem cells, and this effect is particularly robust in young brains. [Press release from Howard Hughes Medical Institute discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

A New Stem Cell Enters the Mix: Induced Conditional Self-Renewing Progenitor Cells
With the addition of a single gene, a team instructed neural progenitor cells to self-renew in a laboratory dish. [Press release from Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute discussing online prepublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA]

Discoveries Offer First New Hope in Three Decades for Lethal Pediatric Brain Tumor
For the first time, scientists have cultured human cells from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, and used those cells to create an animal model of the disease. [Press release from Stanford University discussing online prepublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA]

Parkinson’s Disease May Be Caused by Microtubule, Rather Than Mitochondrial Complex I, Dysfunction
New research suggests that defective regulation of microtubules may be responsible for at least some cases of Parkinson’s disease. [Press release from EurekAlert! discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Cell Biology]

Human Stem Cells Transformed into Neurons Lost in Alzheimer’s
Researchers for the first time have transformed a human embryonic stem cell into a critical type of neuron that dies early in Alzheimer’s disease and is a major cause of memory loss. [Press release from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine discussing online prepublication in Stem Cells]

Boosting Protein Garbage Disposal in Brain Cells Protects Mice from Alzheimer’s Disease
Gene therapy that boosts the ability of brain cells to gobble up toxic proteins prevents development of Alzheimer’s disease in mice that are predestined to develop it, report researchers. [Press release from Georgetown University Medical Center discussing online prepublication in Human Molecular Genetics]

Molecule That Spurs Cell’s Recycling Center May Help Alzheimer’s Patients
A team of scientists has linked a molecule that stimulates autophagy with the reduction of one of Alzheimer’s disease’s major hallmarks, amyloid peptide. [Press release from Rockefeller University discussing online prepublication in The FASEB Journal]

Researchers Focus on Human Cells for Spinal Cord Injury Repair
For the first time, scientists discovered that a specific type of human cell, generated from stem cells and transplanted into spinal cord injured rats, provide tremendous benefit, not only repairing damage to the nervous system but helping the animals regain locomotor function as well. [Press release from the University of Rochester Medical Center discussing online prepublication in PLoS One]

Research Study Points to Liver, Not Brain, as Origin of Alzheimer’s Plaques
Unexpected results from a study could completely alter scientists’ ideas about Alzheimer’s disease—pointing to the liver instead of the brain as the source of the “amyloid” that deposits as brain plaques associated with this devastating condition. [Press release from The Scripps Research Institute discussing online prepublication in The Journal of Neuroscience Research]

Flipping a Switch on Neuron Activity
Researchers attached light-sensing modules to neuronal molecules, resulting in molecules that can be turned on and off with simple flashes of light. [Press release from EurekAlert! discussing abstract presented at the Biophysical Society’s 55th Annual Meeting]


CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)

LRRK2 Mutant iPSC-Derived Dopaminergic Neurons Demonstrate Increased Susceptibility to Oxidative Stress
Researchers report generation of induced pluripotent stem cells that carry the p.G2019S mutation (G2019S-iPSCs) in the Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase-2 (LRRK2) gene, the most common Parkinson’s disease-related mutation, and their differentiation into dopaminergic neurons. [Cell Stem Cell]

The Cerebrospinal Fluid Provides a Proliferative Niche for Neural Progenitor Cells
Here, investigators show that the apical complex protein Pals1 and Pten have opposing roles in localizing the Igf1R to the apical, ventricular domain of cerebral cortical progenitor cells. [Neuron]

Self-Renewal Induced Efficiently, Safely, and Effective Therapeutically with One Regulatable Gene in a Human Somatic Progenitor Cell
As proof-of-concept, scientists generated and tested the efficiency, safety, engraftability, and therapeutic utility of “induced conditional self-renewing progenitor cells” derived from the human central nervous system; they conditionally induced self-renewal efficiently within neural progenitors solely by introducing v-myc tightly regulated by a tetracycline-on gene expression system.[Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A]

Hedgehog-Responsive Candidate Cell of Origin for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma
Here, investigators report the identification of a previously undescribed population of immunophenotypic neural precursor cells in the human and murine brainstem whose temporal and spatial distributions correlate closely with the incidence of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma and highlight a candidate cell of origin. [Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A]

Loss of Mitochondrial Complex I Activity Potentiates Dopamine Neuron Death Induced by Microtubule Dysfunction in a Parkinson’s Disease Model
Results suggest that the combination of disrupting microtubule dynamics and inhibiting complex I, either by mutations or exposure to toxicants, may be a risk factor for Parkinson’s disease. [J Cell Biol]

The Controlled Generation of Functional Basal Forebrain Cholinergic Neurons from Human Embryonic Stem Cells
Scientists demonstrate here a method for the derivation of a predominantly pure population of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons from human embryonic stem cells using diffusible ligands present in the forebrain at developmentally relevant time periods. [Stem Cells]

Parkin Mediates Beclin-Dependent Autophagic Clearance of Defective Mitochondria and Ubiquitinated Aβ in AD Models
Investigators used a triple transgenic AD (3xTg-AD) mouse, which over-expresses APPSwe, TauP301L and harbor the PS1M146V knock-in mutation, and found that lentiviral parkin ubiquitinated intracellular amyloid-β (Aβ) in vivo, stimulated beclin-dependent molecular cascade of autophagy and facilitated clearance of vesicles containing debris and defective mitochondria. [Hum Mol Genet]

A Small-Molecule Enhancer of Autophagy Decreases Levels of Aβ and APP-CTF via Atg5-Dependent Autophagy Pathway
Researchers examined the possibility of inducing autophagy to reduce amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide and the amyloid precursor protein-derived fragment APP-CTF levels in cell lines and primary neuronal cultures. [FASEB J]

Transplantation of Specific Human Astrocytes Promotes Functional Recovery After Spinal Cord Injury
This study is the first to show functional differences in ability to promote repair of the injured adult central nervous system between two distinct subtypes of human astrocytes derived from a common fetal glial precursor population. [PLoS One]

Peripheral Reduction of β-Amyloid Is Sufficient to Reduce Brain β-Amyloid: Implications for Alzheimer’s Disease 
Scientists show that the activity of mouse Psen2, as measured by levels of mRNA accumulation, unexpectedly is heritable in the liver but not the brain, suggesting liver as the origin of brain β-amyloid deposits. [J Neurosci Res]



ReNeuron Gives Update on Stroke Clinical Trial
ReNeuron Group plc provides an update on progress with the PISCES clinical trial of its ReN001 stem cell therapy for disabled stroke patients. [ReNeuron Group plc Press Release]

EMD Serono Holds Grand Opening Ceremony for New State-of-the-Art Research Center in Billerica, MA
EMD Serono, Inc. announced the opening of a state-of-the-art research center in Billerica, MA, establishing it as a “hub” within the Merck KGaA research organization. [EMD Serono, Inc. Press Release]

5-ALA Clinical Trial Opens for Patients with Brain Tumors Called Gliomas
University of Washington Medical Center is the first center in a five-state region to be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to use an experimental drug called 5-aminolevunilic acid (5-ALA) to help locate brain tumors by using a fluorescent light during surgery. [University of Washington Press Release]

Neuralstem CEO and President to Present at 31st Annual Cowen Health Care Conference
Neuralstem, Inc. announced that CEO and President Richard Garr is scheduled to present at the Cowen and Company 31st Annual Health Care Conference. [Neuralstem, Inc. 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)

NEW 8th International Brain Research Organization (IBRO) World Congress of Neuroscience
July 14-18, 2011
Florence, Italy

NEW Society for Neuroscience
October 13-17, 2012
New Orleans, United States

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

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

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

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

Field Applications Specialist – Cell Therapy (Pall Corporation) 

Chair in Stem Cell Neurobiology (Cardiff University)

Research Position on Imaging Neurodegeneration (Singapore Bioimaging Consortium)

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