Brain

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified an enzyme that pumps up a cell’s ability to maintain healthy muscle and restores normal muscle function in genetically engineered mice with weak muscles. The study, published online in Nature Medicine, is the first to explore the part this enzyme plays in a cascade of events triggered by exercise-induced hormones and other signals.

New studies in the laboratory of Dr. Darwin J. Prockop, Director of Tulane University’s Center for Gene Therapy, are shedding light on the previously mysterious mechanism through which even relatively small amounts of stem/progenitor cells taken from a patient’s own bone marrow enhance repair of damaged tissues.

Mice whose brains had lost a large number of neurons due to neurodegeneration regained long-term memories and the ability to learn after their surroundings were enriched with toys and other sensory stimuli, according to new studies by Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers. The scientists were able to achieve the same results when they treated the mice with a specific type of drug that encourages neuronal growth.

Hopkins researchers have identified a backup supply of stem cells that can repair the most severe damage to the nerves responsible for our sense of smell. These reservists normally lie around and do nothing, but when neighboring cells die, the scientists say, the stem cells jump into action.

“These stem cells act like the Army Reserves of our nose,” explains lead author Randall Reed, Ph.D., a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins, “supporting a class of active-duty stem cells that help repair normal wear and tear. They don’t come in until things are really bad.”

Education was becoming a no-brainer, some people at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE) complained.

University of Portsmouth scientists have developed a powerful new tool that 'freezes' the memory of crime scenes in the minds of witnesses.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered that the same ingredient used in dandruff shampoos to fight the burning, itching and flaking on your head also can calm overexcited nerve cells inside your head, making it a potential treatment for seizures. Results of the study can be found online in Nature Chemical Biology.

In a breakthrough that could make the production of cellulosic ethanol less expensive, Cornell researchers have discovered a class of plant enzymes that potentially could allow plant materials used to make ethanol to be broken down more efficiently than is possible using current technologies.

Brains are able to adjust automatically to the demands of distinguishing between small differences in smell, new research at the University of Chicago shows.

The research, which was conducted on rats, suggests that the human brain may be more adept at distinguishing smells than previously thought. The work comes from studies in the laboratory of Leslie Kay, Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University, who is looking at the ways animals perceive sensory stimuli by focusing on the neural basis of olfactory perception and how context and experience influence it.

A unique pattern of gene expression observed in rats may be linked to a conditioned desire for food and excessive food intake, an article published today in BMC Biology suggests.