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Erik Driscoll
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Allen Integrated Cell Released Online

Allen Institute researchers have launched a new predictive, comprehensive model of a living human cell. The 3D model has been released as a public resource that will allow researchers to study human disease models and better understand cell properties.

The Allen Institute for Cell Science today launched the first predictive and comprehensive, 3D model of a live human cell, the Allen Integrated Cell. By allowing researchers around the world to see many structures inside a living cell together at the same time, the Allen Integrated Cell provides a baseline for understanding cells and studying human disease models.

“This is a new way to see inside living human cells,” said Rick Horwitz, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Allen Institute for Cell Science. “It’s like seeing the whole cell for the first time. In the future, this will impact drug discovery, disease research and how we frame basic studies involving human cells.”

The Allen Integrated Cell is available at

#neuroscience #biology #opensource #science

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Noninvasive Spinal Stimulation Enables Paralyzed People to Regain Use of Hands

A new, non invasive spinal stimulation method has helped restore movement to hands of paralyzed patients, researchers report.

The ability to perform simple daily tasks can make a big difference in people’s lives, especially for those with spinal cord injuries. A UCLA-led team of scientists reports that six people with severe spinal cord injuries — three of them completely paralyzed — have regained use of their hands and fingers for the first time in years after undergoing a nonsurgical, noninvasive spinal stimulation procedure the researchers developed.

“Noninvasive activation of cervical spinal networks after severe paralysis” by Dr. Parag Gad, Dr. Sujin Lee, Dr. Nicholas Terrafranca, Dr. Hui Zhong, Mrs. Amanda Turner, Dr. Yury Gerasimenko, and Dr. Victor Reggie Edgerton Ph.D. in Journal of Neurotrauma. (paywalled)

#neuroscience #neurotech #paralysis #science

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Astronauts are helping doctors learn how drug therapies work in space and understand the processes off Earth that lead to weakened muscles and bones.
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Researchers Watch Brain’s Lining Heal After Head Injury

Following head injury, the protective lining that surrounds the brain may get a little help from its friends: immune cells that spring into action to assist with repairs. In a new study, scientists from the National Institutes of Health watched in real-time as different immune cells took on carefully timed jobs to fix the damaged lining of the brain, also known as meninges, in mice. These results may help provide clues to the discovery that the meninges in humans may heal following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and why additional hits to the head can be so devastating.

Research: “Distinct myeloid cell subsets promote meningeal remodeling and vascular repair after mild traumatic brain injury” by Matthew V. Russo, Lawrence L. Latour & Dorian B. McGavern in Nature Immunology. Published April 16 2018. (paywalled)

#neuroscience #brainresearch

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Researchers Fix Genetic Risk Factor of Alzheimer’s in Human Brain Cells

In a new study published in Nature Medicine, researchers revealed how apoE4 confers its risk for Alzheimer’s disease in human brain cells. What’s more, they were able to erase the damage caused by apoE4 by changing it, with a small molecule, into a harmless apoE3-like version.

“Gain of toxic apolipoprotein E4 effects in human iPSC-derived neurons is ameliorated by a small-molecule structure corrector” by Chengzhong Wang, Ramsey Najm, Qin Xu, Dah-eun Jeong, David Walker, Maureen E. Balestra, Seo Yeon Yoon, Heidi Yuan, Gang Li, Zachary A. Miller, Bruce L. Miller, Mary J. Malloy & Yadong Huang in Nature Medicine (paywalled)

#neuroscience #neurology #Alzheimers

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Vagus Nerve Stimulation Boosts Post-Stroke Motor Skill Recovery
(rat study, human clinical trials underway)

In a preclinical study, the scientists paired vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) with a physical therapy task aimed at improving the function of an upper limb in rodents. The results showed a doubled long-term recovery rate relative to current therapy methods, not only in the targeted task but also in similar muscle movements that were not specifically rehabbed. Their work was recently published in the journal Stroke.

A clinical trial to test the technique in humans is underway in Dallas and 15 other sites across the country.

“Vagus Nerve Stimulation Enhances Stable Plasticity and Generalization of Stroke Recovery” by Eric C. Meyers, Bleyda R. Solorzano, Justin James, Patrick D. Ganzer, Elaine S. Lai, Robert L. Rennaker, Michael P. Kilgard, Sand eth A. Hays in Stroke. (paywalled)

#neuroscience #neurology #neurotech #neuroprosthetics

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Prosthetic Memory System Successful in Humans

Scientists at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the University of Southern California (USC) have demonstrated the successful implementation of a prosthetic system that uses a person’s own memory patterns to facilitate the brain’s ability to encode and recall memory.

In the pilot study, published in today’s Journal of Neural Engineering, participants’ short-term memory performance showed a 35 to 37 percent improvement over baseline measurements.

“This is the first time scientists have been able to identify a patient’s own brain cell code or pattern for memory and, in essence, ‘write in’ that code to make existing memory work better, an important first step in potentially restoring memory loss,” said the study’s lead author Robert Hampson, Ph.D., professor of physiology/pharmacology and neurology at Wake Forest Baptist.

Original Research: “Developing a hippocampal neural prosthetic to facilitate human memory encoding and recall” by Robert E Hampson, Dong Song, Brian S Robinson, Dustin Fetterhoff, Alexander S Dakos, Brent M Roeder, Xiwei She, Robert T Wicks, Mark R Witcher, Daniel E Couture, Adrian W Laxton, Heidi Munger-Clary, Gautam Popli, Myriam J Sollman, Christopher T Whitlow, Vasilis Z Marmarelis, Theodore W Berger and Sam A Deadwyler in ^Journal of Neural Engineering* (paywalled)

#neuroscience #neuroprosthetics #memory #brain

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The Brain Learns Completely Differently than We’ve Assumed Since the 20th Century

Using new theoretical results and experiments on neuronal cultures, a group of scientists, led by Prof. Ido Kanter, of the Department of Physics and the Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center at Bar-Ilan University, has demonstrated that the central assumption for nearly 70 years that learning occurs only in the synapses is mistaken.

In an article published today in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers go against conventional wisdom to show that learning is actually done by several dendrites, similar to the slow learning mechanism currently attributed to the synapses.

"Adaptive nodes enrich nonlinear cooperative learning beyond traditional adaptation by links" by Shira Sardi, Roni Vardi, Amir Goldental, Anton Sheinin, Herut Uzan & Ido Kanter is in Nature's Scientific Reports here (open access)

#neuroscience #science #brain #openaccess

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Paraplegic Rat Walks Again After Therapy, and Now We Know Why

With the help of robot-assisted rehabilitation and electrochemical spinal cord stimulation, rats with clinically-relevant spinal cord injury regain control of their otherwise paralyzed limbs. But how do brain commands – about walking, swimming and stair-climbing – bypass the injury and still reach the spinal cord to execute these complex tasks? EPFL scientists have observed for the first time that the brain reroutes task-specific motor commands through alternative pathways originating in the brainstem and projecting to the spinal cord. The therapy triggers the growth of new connections from the motor cortex into the brainstem and from the brainstem into the spinal cord, thus reconnecting the brain with the spinal cord below the injury.

The results are published in Nature Neuroscience March 19th.

Research Paper (Paywall):

Cortico–reticulo–spinal circuit reorganization enables functional recovery after severe spinal cord contusion

Authors: Leonie Asboth, Lucia Friedli, Janine Beauparlant, Cristina Martinez-Gonzalez, Selin Anil, Elodie Rey, Laetitia Baud, Galyna Pidpruzhnykova, Mark A. Anderson, Polina Shkorbatova, Laura Batti, Stephane Pagès, Julie Kreider, Bernard L. Schneider, Quentin Barraud & Gregoire Courtine

#Neuroscience #Neurology #Neurotech #Robotics

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Making New Memories is a Balancing Act

Salk Institute scientists and collaborators at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Otago, in New Zealand, found that connections in the brain not only expand as needed in response to learning or experiencing new things, but that others will shrink as a result. The work, which could shed light on conditions in which memory formation is impaired, such as depression or Alzheimer’s disease, appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on February 20, 2018.

The abstract for "Long-term potentiation expands information content of hippocampal dentate gyrus synapses" is available from PNAS here (paywall for full article):

#Neuroscience #BrainAwarenessWeek
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