Monday, August 20, 2012

Potential Universal Treatment of Neurodegenerative Disorders

Researchers at MRC toxicology unit in the UK, lead by Giovanna R. Mallucci,MD,PhD have associated the activation of a protein called eIF2 (the alpha subunit of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2) with the cell death and synaptic damage seen in prion neurodegeneration. Even more importantly, they blocked eIF2alpha phosphorylation and reversed the disease process !
The buildup of prion protein as it replicates induces "persistent translational repression" of general protein synthesis by eIF2alpha, which in turn was associated with synaptic failure and cell death. According to NEUROLOGY TODAY, the normally protective mechanism is over-activated with fatal prolonged failure of protein synthesis.
Researchers then used viral vectors to overexpress an enzyme specific eIF2alpha-P phosphatase called GADD34 to reduce prion protein levels, protecting brain hippocampal cells which are commonly targeted in the sick with memory disorders.
Researchers are now looking for drugs that could work on this pathway in humans to provide a unified treatment approach for these incurable diseases.
Nature 2012;E-pub 2012 May 6

Unifying Theory of a Prion-like Process in Neurodegenerative Disease

Researchers at UCSF are the first to demonstrate that amyloid beta (Abeta) deposition can be planted in the brain by synthetic amyloid beta alone, fortifying the conclusion that a prion-like process of corruptive protein templating is involved.
Transgenic mice were inoculated with brain derived Abeta or synthetic Abeta peptide protein. Inoculated mice showed significant Abeta deposition over time.
These findings further support an enlarging body of evidence that abnormal protein accumulations seen in Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease,and ALS/Frototemporal degeneration follow the same pathologic abnormal protein creates a template and seeds other proteins to self-propagate, misfold, build up, and eventually damage brain tissue inducing cell death.
Using this knowledge, treatment would be started decades before symptom declaration, targeting the initial seed and preventing the deluge of misfolded toxic proteins that follows.
Science 2012:336,1511-1513

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Robotic Arm Used by Longstanding Tetraplegics

Employing a 96-channel microelectrode array implanted in the motor cortex of tetraplegics, without rigorous training , two patients were able to control a robotic arm over a broad space performing reach and grasp movements . One patient was even able to drink coffee ! This neural interface system-based control transmitted signals from a small population of cerebral cortical motor neurons to manipulate the robotic arm. This study shows that years after injury to the CNS that such a system may be employed to recreate useful multidimensional control of complex devices directly from a small sample of neural signals.
Nature may 16,2012

Possible New Predictive Test for PD

Tissue obtained during colonoscopy showed immunostaining for alpha-synuclein years before the declaration of first motor symtoms consistent with disease onset. Additional study is required to determine if this will be a useful biomarker of pre-motor Parkinson's disease.
Movement Disorders May 1,2012

Alemtuzumab in MS

In patients with relapsing-remitting MS, alemtuzumab was found to be superior to interferon beta 1-a . Patients were randomized to 12 mg of alemtuzumab for 5 days at month 0 and 3 days at month 12 by infusion or 44 mcg qod with interferon beta 1-a.
Neurology 2012;78:(14):1069-1078
Lancet Neurology 2011;10(4):338-348

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rest in Peace Dad..We'll Miss You Pop

Chester Joseph Prusinski, DO 
October 5, 1938 - August 6, 2012
Donations to the American Brain Foundation

Coffee To Improve Movement In Parkinson's Disease

Coffee ingestion has been shown to decrease risk of Parkinson's disease and now a new study from McGill University in Montreal suggests it actually improves movement of those with the disease.
Neurology August 1,2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Watch You Tube For Treatment of Vertigo

A very successful treatment for "Benign" paroxysmal positional vertigo ( a common cause of dizziness ) called the Epley maneuver can be found on You Tube for physicians and the afflicted alike.
Neurology July 24,2012

New Blood Biomarker May Help Predict Alzheimer's

A fat called ceramide at high levels may increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's.
Neurology July 18,2012

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Implantable Fuel Cell To Power Prosthetics

An implantable fuel cell that generates power through glucose oxidation has been developed that may be used to power future neural prosthetics.
The fuel cell was created employing semiconductor fabrication techniques that allow it to exist with integrated circuits on a single silicon wafer.
An activated platinum anode facilitates glucose oxidation. Half-open geometry is used in the fuel cell's configuration that shields the anode and exposes the cathode.
It is theorized that the CNS recirculation of CSF around the brain will provide adequate glucose energy harvesting without adverse effects.
Thus, low-power brain-machine interfaces can be powered or re-charged by glucose fuel cells.
PLoS ONE June 12 2012