Brain

NEW YORK - A team of researchers from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and Columbia University, in a collaboration catalyzed by the Project A.L.S./Jenifer Estess Laboratory for Stem Cell Research, has demonstrated that pluripotent stem cells generated from a patient with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) can be directed to differentiate into motor neurons—the very brain cells destroyed by ALS. The results of the team's study appear in today's online issue of Science.

St. Louis, July 31, 2008 — Staying awake slows down our brains, scientists have long recognized. Mental performance is at its peak after sleep but inevitably trends downward throughout the day, and sleep deprivation only worsens these effects.

For the first time, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found a way to stop this downward slide. When scientists genetically tweaked a part of the brain involved in learning and memory in fruit flies, the flies were unimpaired even after being deprived of sleep.

Like their human hosts, bacteria need iron to survive and they must obtain that iron from the environment. While humans obtain iron primarily through the food they eat, bacteria have evolved complex and diverse mechanisms to allow them access to iron. A Syracuse University research team led by Robert Doyle, assistant professor of chemistry in The College of Arts and Sciences, discovered that some bacteria are equipped with a gene that enables them to harvest iron from their environment or human host in a unique and energy efficient manner.

Throughout the world, scientists are attempting to recognize and treat schizophrenic disorders at an earlier stage. It is hoped that this will improve the prognosis, which has often been unfavorable.

Researchers have used a drug to achieve normal levels of blood sugar in animals genetically engineered to have abnormally high insulin levels. If this approach succeeds in humans, it could become an innovative medicine for children with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare but potentially devastating genetic disease in which insulin levels become dangerously high.

Living with a spouse or a partner decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer's and other dementia diseases. This according to a study by Krister Håkansson, researcher in psychology at Växjö University and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. The results were presented for the first time yesterday at the world's largest dementia conference.

Two hormone-like compounds linked to the consumption of soy-based foods can cause irreversible changes in the structure of the brain, resulting in early-onset puberty and symptoms of advanced menopause in research animals, according to a new study by researchers at North Carolina State University. The study is a breakthrough in determining how these compounds can cause reproductive health problems, as well as in providing a key building block for how to treat these problems.

People with schizophrenia have an increased number of unusual chromosomal changes, particularly structural changes that have the potential to alter the function of the genes. These results were published today in the scientific journal Nature.

Cells rely on calcium as a universal means of communication. For example, a sudden rush of calcium can trigger nerve cells to convey thoughts in the brain or cause a heart cell to beat. A longstanding mystery has been how cells and molecules manage to appropriately sense and respond to the variety of calcium fluctuations within cells.

A routinely available laboratory result called the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) provides a simple indicator of kidney function and may increase early diagnoses of chronic kidney disease (CKD). However, widespread use of eGFR for this purpose may have inherent flaws and dangers—including a risk that large numbers of elderly patients will be misclassified as having CKD.

NEW YORK, July 26, 2008 – The following news tips are based on poster and oral presentations at the Alzheimer's Association 2008 International Conference to be held in Chicago from July 26 to July 31. Each presentation is embargoed for a specific date and time.

Brain Atrophy and Biomarkers May Help Identify People at Risk for Alzheimer's Susan de Santi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, NYU Langone Medical CenterEMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL TUESDAY, July 29, 2008 at 12:30 p.m. CT

CHICAGO (July 30, 2008) -- NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center announced today the nine-month interim results of an ongoing Phase II clinical trial of GAMMAGARD Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IGIV) for Alzheimer's disease at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD) in Chicago.

The nine-month results show significantly better global outcomes, cognitive performance and daily functioning in patients treated with IGIV compared to initially placebo-treated patients.

PORTLAND, Ore. – An experimental drug that blocks the euphoric feelings associated with drinking may prevent alcoholics from relapsing. The finding, the result of a mouse study at Oregon Health & Science University, could lead to human clinical trials within the next year.

CHAPEL HILL – You could say two is a small number.

But that's still two too many for Frederick O. Mueller, Ph.D., professor of exercise and sports science in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The figure represents the number of reported cases of heat stroke deaths among high school level football players in 2007. To Mueller, it also represents two young lives unnecessarily lost: one was 17-years-old; the other, just 16.

NEW YORK, July 30, 2008 – A maternal history of Alzheimer's disease appears to predispose individuals to the mind-robbing disease because their brains aren't using glucose efficiently, according to new findings presented at the Alzheimer's Association 2008 International Alzheimer's Disease Conference held in Chicago.