Volume 5.11 | Mar 23

Neural Cell News 5.11, March 23, 2011.
     In this issue: Science News | Current Publications | Industry News | Policy News | Events

Study Sheds Light on Brain Signalling
University scientists have identified a protein crucial for maintaining the health and function of the segment of nerve fibres that controls transmission of messages within the brain. [Press release from The University of Edinburgh discussing online prepublication in Neuron]

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Salk Scientists Crack Molecular Code Regulating Neuronal Excitability
A team of biologists has recently deciphered a molecular code that regulates availability of a brain channel that modulates neuronal excitability, a discovery that might aid efforts to treat drug addiction and mental disorders. [Press release from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies discussing online prepublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]

Stem Cells May Show Promise for People with Rapidly Progressing MS
A long term study reports about the effectiveness of replacing bone marrow, purposely destroyed by chemotherapy, with autologous (self) stem cell rescue for people with aggressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). [Press release from the American Academy of Neurology discussing online prepublication in Neurology]

New Method Delivers Alzheimer’s Drug to the Brain
Scientists have developed a new method for delivering complex drugs directly to the brain. The team has successfully switched off a gene implicated in Alzheimer’s disease in the brains of mice by exploiting exosomes. [Press release from the University of Oxford discussing online prepublication in Nature Biotechnology]

Scientists ID Possible Biomarker to Gauge Alzheimer’s Prognosis, Effect of Therapies
UCLA researchers have identified a new biomarker that could help them track how effectively the immune system is able to clear the brain of amyloid beta, which forms the plaques considered one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. [Press release from the University of California, Los Angeles discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease]

Re-Creating Autism, In Mice
By mutating a single gene, researchers at MIT and Duke have produced mice with two of the most common traits of autism — compulsive, repetitive behavior and avoidance of social interaction. They further showed that this gene, which is also implicated in many cases of human autism, appears to produce autistic behavior by interfering with communication between brain cells. [Press release from the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT discussing online prepublication in Nature]

Researchers Gain New Insight Into the Brain’s Ability to Reorganize Itself
Scientists recently showed how the plasticity of the brain allowed mice to restore critical functions related to learning and memory after the scientists suppressed the animals’ ability to make certain new brain cells. [Press release from the University of Michigan discussing online prepublication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]

Novel Gene Therapy Agent NLX-P101 Effective in Treating Parkinson’s Disease in Phase 2 Trial
Neurologix, Inc. announced that the results of the Company’s Phase 2 clinical trial for its novel, investigational gene therapy NLX-P101 for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease (PD) were published in an online-first edition of The Lancet Neurology. [Press release from Neurologix, Inc. discussing online prepublication in The Lancet Neurology]

Purdue Research may Lead to Therapy that Delays onset, Reduces Severity of MS Symptoms
People suffering from multiple sclerosis may benefit if patent-pending research conducted at Purdue University shows that a decades-old drug approved by the FDA to treat hypertension also can delay the onset and reduce the severity of MS symptoms. [Purdue University Press Release]


CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)

Shank3 Mutant Mice Display Autistic-Like Behaviours and Striatal Dysfunction
Here researchers show that mice with Shank3 gene deletions exhibit self-injurious repetitive grooming and deficits in social interaction. Cellular, electrophysiological and biochemical analyses uncovered defects at striatal synapses and cortico-striatal circuits in Shank3 mutant mice. [Nature]

Delivery of siRNA to the Mouse Brain by Systemic Injection of Targeted Exosomes
Researchers show that exosomes can deliver short interfering (si) RNA to the brain in mice. [Nat Biotechnol]

AAV2-GAD Gene Therapy for Advanced Parkinson’s Disease: a Double-Blind, Sham-Surgery Controlled, Randomised Trial
Researchers aimed to assess the effect of bilateral delivery of AAV2-GAD in the subthalamic nucleus compared with sham surgery in patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. [Lancet Neurol]

HDAC-Mediated Deacetylation of NF-κB is Critical for Schwann Cell Myelination
Researchers found that the acetylation state of NF-κB, which is regulated by histone deacetylases (HDACs) 1 and 2, is critical for orchestrating the myelination program. [Nat Neurosci]

HDAC1 and HDAC2 Control the Transcriptional Program of Myelination and the Survival of Schwann Cells
Researchers show that HDAC1 and HDAC2 functions are critical for myelination of the peripheral nervous system. [Nat Neurosci]

A Critical Role for Neurofascin in Regulating Action Potential Initiation through Maintenance of the Axon Initial Segment
The neuronal isoform of Neurofascin, Nfasc186, clusters voltage-gated sodium channels at nodes of Ranvier in myelinated nerves: here, researchers investigate its role in axon initial segment assembly and stabilization. [Neuron]

Mechanism Underlying Selective Regulation of G Protein-Gated Inwardly Rectifying Potassium Channels by the Psychostimulant-Sensitive Sorting Nexin 27
Using high-resolution structures coupled with biochemical and functional analyses, researchers identified key amino acids upstream of the channel’s canonical PDZ-binding motif that associate electrostatically with a unique structural pocket in the SNX27-PDZ domain. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Compensatory Network Changes in the Dentate Gyrus Restore Long-Term Potentiation following Ablation of Neurogenesis in Young-Adult Mice
Using a recently developed transgenic mouse model for suppressing neurogenesis, researchers sought to determine the long-term impact of ablating neurogenesis on synaptic plasticity in young-adult mice. [Proc Natl Acad Sci USA]

Long-Term Results of Stem Cell Transplantation for MS: A Single-Center Experience
The objective of this study was to report long-term results of a phase I/II study conducted in a single center in order to investigate the effect of hemopoietic stem cell transplantation in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). [Neurology]

MGAT3 mRNA: A Biomarker for Prognosis and Therapy of Alzheimer’s Disease by Vitamin D and Curcuminoids
Researchers have examined in a pilot study a new biomarker in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, the transcription of mRNA of β-1,4-mannosyl-glycoprotein 4-β-N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase (MGAT3), the essential gene for Aβ phagocytosis. [J Alzheimers Dis]


Dr. Eugene C. Lai Joins the Methodist Neurological Institute
Eugene C. Lai, M.D., Ph.D., recently joined the Methodist Neurological Institute and holds the Robert W. Hervey Distinguished Endowed Chair for Parkinson’s Disease Research and Treatment. [Newswise]

Lilly and Avid Receive Complete Response Letter from FDA for Amyvid™ (florbetapir F 18 injection)
Eli Lilly and Company and its wholly owned subsidiary, Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, Inc., have received a complete response letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their New Drug Application for Amyvid™ (florbetapir F 18 injection), a Positron Emission Tomo-graphy imaging agent under investigation for the detection of β-amyloid plaque in the brains of living patients. [Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, 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)


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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)

Implementation Coordinator – Maternity Leave Contract (STEMSOFT Software Inc.)

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