Volume 5.21 | Jun 1

Neural Cell News 5.21, June 1, 2011
     In this issue: Science News | Current Publications | Industry News | Policy News | Events
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TOP STORY

Scientists Turn Human Skin Cells Directly into Neurons, Skipping iPS Stage
Human skin cells can be converted directly into functional neurons in a period of four to five weeks with the addition of just four proteins, according to a study. [Press release from Stanford University School of Medicine discussing online prepublication in Nature]

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SCIENCE NEWS

New Drugs Target Delay of Huntington’s Symptoms
McMaster researchers have discovered a new drug target that may be effective at preventing the onset of Huntington’s disease, working much the same way heart medications slow the progression of heart disease and reduce heart attacks. [Press release from McMaster University discussing online prepublication in Nature Chemical Biology]

Scientists Recreate Brain Cell Networks Providing View of Activity Behind Memory Formation
Researchers have reproduced the brain’s complex electrical impulses onto models made of living brain cells that provide an unprecedented view of the neuron activity behind memory formation. [Press release from ScienceDaily discussing online prepublication in Lab on a Chip]

Zeroing in on Alzheimer’s Disease
Recently the number of genes known to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease has increased from four to eight, including the MS4A gene cluster on chromosome 11. New research has expanded on this using a genome-wide association study to find a novel location within the MS4A gene cluster which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. [Press release from ScienceDaily discussing online prepublication in Genome Medicine]

Gene Change Identifies Brain Cancer Patients That Respond Better To Treatment  
New research proves that a change in a particular gene can identify which patients with a specific kind of brain cancer will respond better to treatment. Testing for the gene can distinguish patients with a more- or less-aggressive form of glioblastoma and help guide therapy, the researchers say. [Press release from the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center discussing research to be presented at the 2011 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago]

Potential New Drug Candidate Found for Alzheimers Disease
Researchers have demonstrated that oral administration of a cysteine protease inhibitor, E64d, not only reduces the build-up of β-amyloid in the brains of animal models for Alzheimer’s disease, but also results in a substantial improvement in memory deficit. [Press release from the University of California, San Diego Health System discussing online prepublication in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease]

How to Make a Human Neuron
By transforming cells from human skin into working nerve cells, researchers may have come up with a model for nervous-system diseases and perhaps even regenerative therapies based on cell transplants. [Press release from NatureNews discussing online prepublication in Nature]

Autism Changes Molecular Structure of the Brain, UCLA Study Finds
A UCLA study is the first to reveal how autism makes its mark at the molecular level, resulting in an autistic brain that differs dramatically in structure from a healthy one. [Press release from the University of California, Los Angeles discussing online prepublication in Nature]

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CURRENT PUBLICATIONS (Ranked by Impact Factor of the Journal)

Induction of Human Neuronal Cells by Defined Transcription Factors
Here researchers show that the same three factors can generate functional neurons from human pluripotent stem cells as early as 6 days after transgene activation. [Nature]

Transcriptomic Analysis of Autistic Brain Reveals Convergent Molecular Pathology
Here, researchers demonstrate consistent differences in transcriptome organization between autistic and normal brain by gene co-expression network analysis. [Nature]

Selective Attention from Voluntary Control of Neurons in Prefrontal Cortex
Researchers show that monkeys can control the activity of neurons within the frontal eye field (FEF), an oculomotor area of prefrontal cortex. However, operantly driven FEF activity was primarily associated with selective visual attention and not oculomotor preparation. [Science]

Kinase Inhibitors Modulate Huntingtin Cell Localization and Toxicity
Here researchers show that the stress-dependent phosphorylation of huntingtin at Ser13 and Ser16 affects N17 conformation and targets full-length huntingtin to chromatin-dependent subregions of the nucleus, the mitotic spindle and cleavage furrow during cell division. [Nat Chem Biol]

The PINK1/Parkin Pathway Regulates Mitochondrial Dynamics and Function in Mammalian Hippocampal and Dopaminergic Neurons
Here researchers used mammalian primary neurons to examine the function of the PINK1/Parkin pathway in regulating mitochondrial dynamics and function. [Hum Mol Genet]

Ring-Shaped Neuronal Networks: a Platform to Study Persistent Activity
Here researchers propose a platform to study synaptic mechanisms of such persistent activity by constraining neuronal networks to a recurrent loop like geometry. [Lab on a Chip]

The Cysteine Protease Inhibitor, E64d, Reduces Brain Amyloid-β and Improves Memory Deficits in Alzheimer’s Disease Animal Models by Inhibiting Cathepsin B, but not BACE1, β-Secretase Activity
Researchers conclude that E64d likely reduces brain Aβ by inhibiting cathepsin B and not BACE1 β-secretase activity and that E64d therefore may have potential for treating Alzheimer’s Disease patients. [J Alzheimers Dis]

Boosting Brain Uptake of a Therapeutic Antibody by Reducing Its Affinity for a Transcytosis Target
Here, researchers show that reducing the affinity of an antibody for the transferrin receptor (TfR) enhances receptor-mediated transcytosis of the anti-TfR antibody across the blood-brain barrier into the mouse brain where it reaches therapeutically relevant concentrations. [Sci Transl Med]

The Membrane-Spanning 4-Domains, Subfamily A (MS4A) Gene Cluster Contains a Common Variant Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease
In order to identify novel loci associated to Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers conducted a genome-wide association study in the Spanish population. [Gen Med]

INDUSTRY NEWS

Northwest Biotherapeutics Further Expands Ongoing Brain Cancer Trial
Northwest Biotherapeutics announced that it has accelerated the addition of clinical trial sites, exceeding its projections for the doubling of such sites across the U.S. this calendar quarter, for enrollment of new patients into the Company’s ongoing 240-patient randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial of DCVax® immune therapy for Glioblastoma multiforme. [Northwest Biotherapeutics Press Release]

Neurologix Presents One-Year Follow-Up Data From Phase 2 Study of NLX-P101 in Parkinson’s Disease at International Neuromodulation Society 10th World Congress
Neurologix, Inc. announced the presentation of efficacy results through one year of follow-up in patients treated as part of the Company’s successful Phase 2 clinical trial for its novel, investigational gene therapy NLX-P101 for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. [Neurologix, Inc. Press Release]

New Research Aims to Shed Light on Abnormal Brain Development
British Columbia researchers are finally on the road to developing targeted treatments for serious, life-long disabilities such as autism and schizophrenia, thanks to new genomics research focusing on abnormal brain development. [Genome British Columbia Press Release]

Penn Announces Partnership With Chinese Academy of Sciences for Center of Excellence in Brain Mapping
The University of Pennsylvania (Penn) announced a collaboration agreement with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to develop a joint Center of Excellence in Brain Mapping for the purpose of collaborative research and education in neuroimaging. [University of Pennsylvania Press Release]

Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission Funds 36 New Projects in FY 2011
The Maryland Stem Cell Research Commission has completed its review of the 180 applications received in response to its three FY 2011 Requests for Applications. [Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund Press Release]

UCSF’s Alvarez-Buylla Recognized for Pioneering Stem Cell Research
Neural stem cell scientist Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, PhD, was one of three scientists named to receive the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research. [The University of California, San Francisco Press Release]

New Grant to Study How Pediatric Brain Tumor, Ependymoma, Develops
Armed with new grant support, investigators at Nationwide Children’s Hospital plan to examine how a common gene of the nervous system leads to the development of a devastating brain tumor, ependymoma. Robert A. Johnson, PhD, principal investigator in the Center for Childhood Cancer at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s, has received a one-year $75,000 grant from the Matthew Larson Foundation for this research. [EurekAlert!]

Notification of Date of Preliminary Results and Update on Stroke Clinical Trial
ReNeuron Group plc is pleased to announce the completion of dosing of the first cohort of patients in the PISCES clinical trial of its ReN001 stem cell therapy for disabled stroke patients. [ReNeuron 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 Molecular Neurology & Neuropathology
June 27-July 3, 2011
Cold Spring Harbor, United States

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