Thursday, September 24, 2015 |
Scientists at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy are creating white blood cells that teach brain cells to heal the damage caused by degenerative neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease
As a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease, scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have created smarter immune cells that produce and deliver a healing protein to the brain while also teaching neurons to begin making the protein for themselves.
The researchers, led by Elena Batrakova, an associate professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy's Center for Nanotechnology in Drug Delivery, genetically modified white blood cells called macrophages to produce glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor, or GDNF, and deliver it to the brain.
Glial cells provide support and protection for nerve cells throughout the brain and body, and GDNF can heal and stimulate the growth of damaged neurons.
"Currently, there are no treatments that can halt or reverse the course of Parkinson's disease. There are only therapies to address quality of life, such as dopamine replacement," Batrakova said. "However, studies have shown that delivering neurotrophic factor to the brain not only promotes the survival of neurons but also reverses the progression of Parkinson's disease."
In addition to delivering GDNF, the engineered macrophages can "teach" neurons to make the protein for themselves by delivering both the tools and the instructions needed: DNA, messenger RNA and transcription factor.
Successfully delivering the treatment to the brain is the key to the success of GDNF therapy, said Batrakova. Using immune cells avoids the body's natural defenses. The repurposed macrophages are also able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, something most medicines cannot do. The reprogrammed cells travel to the brain and produce tiny bubbles called exosomes that contain GDNF. The cells release the exosomes, which then are able to deliver the proteins to neurons in the brain. The work is described in an article published online by PLOS ONE.
"By teaching immune system cells to make this protective protein, we harness the natural systems of the body to combat degenerative conditions like Parkinson's disease," Batrakova said.
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center awarded a $50,000 Technology Enhancement Grant to the School to help develop the technology into a viable treatment that can be licensed and commercialized.
"This award is an enormously important step towards further successful commercialization of our very exciting cell technologies," said Alexander Kabanov, director of the nanotechnology center. "We will continue our translational efforts at CNDD, and very soon I believe we will see these discoveries on the frontiers of scientific moving into clinical practice."
Read more at Scicast
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 |
Researchers from the University of Maryland Medicine and from its Center for Metabolic Imaging and Image-Guided Therapeutics (CMIT) are conducting the first clinical trial with ultrasound waves to treat Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they guide ultrasound waves through the intact skin and skull to a deep brain region, the globus pallidus. This structure regulates voluntary movement and can be targeted by medication and surgery to treat motor symptoms of tremor, rigidity and dyskinesia in patients with PD.
Levodopa is the current treatment for PD and can temporarily diminish motor symptomatology. However, in the long term, levodopa side-effects include involuntary movements called dyskinesias. Patients with advanced PD whose symptoms are not treatable by medication may undergo a surgical procedure known as deep brain stimulation. One of the brain regions stimulated by implanted electrodes is the globus pallidus though this surgery has associated risks.
Now, researchers have developed this new non-invasive treatment that guides ultrasounds to the targeted brain region by MRI. “In collaboration with my colleagues, we are excited to offer our patients a new, non-invasive therapy to control their Parkinson’s symptoms,” said principal investigator Howard M. Eisenberg in news release. “The neurology community has made significant strides in helping patients with Parkinson’s over the years; utilization of MRI-guided focused ultrasound could help limit the life-altering side effects like dyskinesia to make the disease more manageable and less debilitating,” added Dr. Eisenberg.
This new procedure lasts two to four hours with patients awake and lying on an MRI scanner with a head-immobilizing frame fitted with a transducer helmet. Ultrasonic energy is targeted through the skull to the globus pallidus of the brain, and images acquired in real-time. This allows the physicians to monitor the area being targeted and to make adjustments if necessary.
“We’re raising the temperature in a very restricted area of the brain to destroy tissue,” said Dr. Eisenberg. “The ultrasound waves create a heat lesion that we can monitor through MRI.”
Patients treated in the initial phase of the study experienced significant improvements in hand tremor.“Treatment-related side effects such as dyskinesia are the main reason my patients undergo surgery,” added Paul S- Fishman, sub-investigator on the clinical trial. “Focused ultrasound could offer these patients an alternative to surgery.”
Read more at Parkinson's News Today
Monday, August 31, 2015 |
Parkinson's Disease is linked to genetic issues, however, it is more often connected to the exposure of environmental chemicals.
The symptoms may feel on one side of the body, but gradually they affect both sides of the body. Symptoms of this disease are trembling of your arms, legs, face and jaw, stiffness, slowness of movement and damage your balance and coordination. As the disease gets worse, people with this illness often have trouble in talking, walking, or doing simple tasks. And leads to the development of depression and insomnia.
Lars Brichta, A senior research associate in Greengard's Lab, together with his team, conducted a study which involves a genetically engineering mice, which help them to capture the genetical messages which being translated as a protein in a population of cells. They track the movement of regulator genes with the help of the targeted genes located in the mouse brain. They use a new tool to distinguish the changes between normal mice and the genetically engineered mouse with Parkinson's disease.
The study leads them to the discovery of 2 molecular proteins: the SATB1 and ZDHHC2, which they consider to be the key protective factors because of their unchangeable level of proteins.
Mostly it begins at the age of 65, but it can begin at an early age. Health professional's uses the patient's medical history and conducted a neurological examination to diagnose it. The disease is more common in men than women. Sadly, there were no cures for this disease. DBS or the Deep Brain stimulation can help severe cases by surgically implanting the electrodes in the brain, which sends electrical impulses to trigger the part of the brain which is responsible for the movement of our body. Some affect the ventral tegmental area, also known as (VTA), this part may become deteriorated.
Scientists are looking for molecular changes in the brain which uses genetic sequencing to create a gene expression's variation. It is hard for them to select the changes that occur in a particular cell, they only identify those that are very important through the help of conventional profiling.
Read more at Science Times
Monday, August 31, 2015 |
A good night's sleep helps the body function properly and gets you going the rest of the day without much trouble.
It could be better with a specific sleeping posture.
In a study conducted by Stony Brook University in New York, researchers found that sleeping in the lateral position may help the brain in removing waste products more effectively than sleeping on one's back or stomach. It also suggests fewer chances of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
The study, which experimented on anesthetized mice, used a dynamic contrast MRI method and kinetic modeling in quantifying the exchange rates of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and interstitial fluid (ISF) in the rodents' brains. The researchers looked at the glymphatic pathway — or the filtering — of CSF-ISF exchange rates in the lateral (side), prone (down) and supine (up) sleeping positions.
"The analysis showed us consistently that glymphatic transport was most efficient in the lateral position when compared to the` supine or prone positions," said Dr. Helene Benveniste, a professor at Stony Brook's Departments of Anesthesiology and Radiology and lead investigator of the study. Her team proposed that body position and quantity of sleep must be considered in standardizing future diagnostic imaging in assessing the transport of CSF-ISF in humans, as well as in the assessment of damaging brain proteins that could lead to brain diseases.
The researchers also noted that the lateral position, or sleeping on one's side, is most popular among both humans and most animals, even those in the wild. Although it has not actually been tested on humans, the study strongly suggests the effects sleeping positions may have on the brain. According to Dr. Maiken Nedergaard, a co-author of the study and who leads the University of Rochester's specialist lab that studies brain function, findings of their research reveals new insight into the topic, stressing the importance of the positions in which we choose to sleep.
The researchers believe the same happens to the human brain but emphasize the need for further research, using similar MRI and imaging methods on actual human subjects.
The team further elaborates on the findings of the study in the paper published online in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Read more at Tech Times