Brain

To function, each living cell needs both to build new and to degrade old or damaged proteins. To accomplish that, a number of intracellular systems work in concert to keep the cell healthy and from clogging up with damaged proteins. When proteins or peptides mutate, they can present major problems to the clearing up of the intracellular environment. In Huntington's disease (HD) the disease provoking mutation in the huntingtin gene eventually causes the cell to build up intranuclear and cellular inclusions of protein-aggregates, made up primarily of huntingtin.

The brain appears to process information more chaotically than has long been assumed. This is demonstrated by a new study conducted by scientists at the University of Bonn. The passing on of information from neuron to neuron does not, they show, occur exclusively at the synapses, i.e. the junctions between the nerve cell extensions. Rather, it seems that the neurons release their chemical messengers along the entire length of these extensions and, in this way, excite the neighbouring cells.

MIT researchers have developed a technique to encourage the survival and growth of adult stem cells, a step that could help realize the therapeutic potential of such cells.

Adult stem cells, found in many tissues in the body, are precursor cells for specific cell types. For example, stem cells found in the bone marrow develop into blood cells, bone cells and other connective tissues, and neural stem cells develop into brain tissue.

Those stem cells hold great promise for treatment of injuries and some diseases, says MIT professor of biological engineering Linda Griffith.

Digital atlases of the brains of humans, monkeys, dogs, cats, mice, birds and other animals have been created and posted online by researchers at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience.

According to a new study published in the latest issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine and conducted in the Department of Psychology of McGill University, thermography shows great promise as a diagnostic method of measuring sexual arousal. It is less intrusive than currently utilized methods, and is the only available test that requires no physical contact with participants. Thermography is currently the only method that can be used to diagnose sexual health problems in both women and men.

Scientists from Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine have succeeded in producing neurons in vitro using stem cells extracted from adult human skin. This is the first time such an advanced state of nerve cell differentiation has been achieved from human skin, according to lead researcher Professor François Berthod. This breakthrough could eventually lead to revolutionary advances in the treatment of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease. Berthod and his team described the method used to produce these neurons in a recent issue of the Journal of Cellular Physiology.

A decades-old cancer mystery has been solved by researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). "We not only found a critical tumor suppressor gene, but have revealed a master switch for a tumor suppressive network that means more targeted and effective cancer therapy in the future," said CSHL Associate Professor Alea Mills, Ph.D. The study, headed by Mills, was published in the February issue of Cell.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia are about to embark on an innovative new project to develop computer lip-reading systems that could be used for fighting crime.

A first-of-its-kind study published in the February issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics suggests endoscopic brain surgery, pioneered by surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has the potential to be safer and often more effective than conventional surgery in children with life-threatening conditions.

A Binghamton University researcher has established a new framework to help determine whether individuals might be at risk for schizophrenia.

In a study published in this month's Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Mark F. Lenzenweger, a professor of clinical science, neuroscience and cognitive psychology at Binghamton University, State University of New York (SUNY), is the first to have found that abnormalities in eye movements and attention can be used to divide people into two groups in relation to schizophrenia-related risk.