Archive by category | Neuroscience/mental health

Q&A: How the Brain Activity Map came together—and what its proponents hope to achieve

Q&A: How the Brain Activity Map came together—and what its proponents hope to achieve

It was a single tweet. On 12 February, after US President Barack Obama made a subtle nod to a new neuroscience project in his annual State of the Union address, Francis Collins, director of the country’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), posted on the @NIHDirector Twitter feed: “Obama mentions the #NIH Brain Activity Map in #SOTU.” Instantly, scientists were buzzing with rumors that the Brain Activity Map could be the next moon shot, with a budget and timeline similar to the Human Genome Project.  Read more

‘FlyWalker’ tracks insect feet, could advance Parkinson’s research

They may have wings, but fruit flies spend plenty of time on their feet. And these insects, also known as Drosophila, are a standard animal model for studying neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and even Alzhiemer’s.  Read more

Lithium experiment in ‘Down syndrome’ mice casts light on human trials

Lithium experiment in 'Down syndrome' mice casts light on human trials

Worldwide, one in about 1,000 newborns is diagnosed with Down syndrome, a genetic disorder predominantly caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21—also known as trisomy 21—and in countries such as the US the number of children affected by the condition appears to be increasing. No medicines can currently treat the memory and learning impairments seen in Down syndrome; a new study published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation could offer insight into the cellular pathways to target to improve cognitive function.  Read more

Sangamo tries its hand with zinc fingers for Huntington’s

NEW ORLEANS — Sangamo BioSciences, the Richmond, California company that has sped ahead with engineered ‘zinc fingers’, is pointing to these proteins as a powerful tools in treating an ever-increasing list of illnesses. Clinicians at the Glandular Disease Research Clinic in San Antonio, Texas, began testing Sangamo’s first therapeutic in 2006, in individuals with diabetic neuropathy, but this was halted in 2011 at the end of phase 2 clinical trials because there was insufficient evidence of its efficacy. At present, the company is involved in on-going clinical trials of zinc fingers for glioblastoma and HIV. It hopes to eventually add Huntington’s disease to that roster, thanks to encouraging data from tests on cells. But the ease of applying the zinc finger approach to diseases affecting the brain presents a more challenging endeavor.  Read more

First US stem cell trial for autistic children launches today

First US stem cell trial for autistic children launches today

Families with autistic children must navigate a condition where questions outnumber the answers, and therapies remain sparse and largely ineffective. A clinical trial being conducted by the Sutter Neuroscience Institute in Sacramento, California to address this situation began recruiting participants today for a highly experimental stem cell therapy for autism. The institute plans to find 30 autistic children between ages 2 and 7 with cord blood banked at the privately-run Cord Blood Registry, located about 100 miles west of the institute.  Read more