Center for brain activity mapping launched

Responding to President Barack Obama’s “grand challenge” to chart the function of the human brain in unprecedented detail, UC San Diego has established the Center for Brain Activity Mapping (CBAM). The new center will undertake development of a new generation of tools to enable recording of neuronal activity throughout the brain as well as conduct brain-mapping experiments and data analysis.

CBAM will bring together researchers from neuroscience, engineering, nanoscience, radiology, chemistry, physics, computer science, and mathematics.

Some CBAM projects will likely build on existing research at UC San Diego while others will be new initiatives, growing out of novel collaborations.   The center will compete for national grant funds as well as pursue projects with the help of philanthropists and industry partners.

More at http://bit.ly/12e1KEZ

Tumor protein promotes cancer spread

Researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center report that cancers physically alter cells in the lymphatic system to promote the spread of disease via metastasis.

Roughly 90 percent of all cancer deaths are due to metastasis in which the disease spreads from the original tumor site to multiple, distant tissues and finally overwhelms the patient’s body. Lymph vessels are often the path of transmission, with circulating tumor cells lodging in the lymph nodes – organs distributed throughout the body that act as immune system garrisons and traps for pathogens and foreign particles.

Researchers found that a protein growth factor expressed by tumors activates a receptor on lymphatic vessels in lymph node tissues, making them more “sticky” to metastatic tumor cells.

The findings appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. News release at http://bit.ly/YSKgBA

Compound slows Alzheimer’s in mice

Despite years of research, there are no disease-modifying drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. Current FDA-approved medications offer only fleeting short-term benefits for Alzheimer’s patients, and they do nothing to slow the steady, irreversible decline of brain function that erases a person’s memory and ability to think clearly.

Now comes word that a drug known as J147, developed by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has been shown to slow Alzheimer’s and reverse memory deficits in aged mice following short-term treatment.

In developing J147, researchers bucked the trend within the pharmaceutical industry, which has focused on the biological pathways involved in the formation of amyloid plaques, the dense deposits of protein that characterize Alzheimer’s. Instead, the Salk team used living neurons grown in laboratory dishes to test whether their new synthetic compounds, which are based upon natural products derived from plants, were effective at protecting brain cells against several pathologies associated with brain aging.

In one experiment, J147 was tested directly against Aricept, currently the most widely prescribed Alzheimer’s drug, and found to perform as well or better in several memory tests.

The findings are published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy. News release at http://bit.ly/14nt31s

—Lynne Friedmann is a science writer based in Solana Beach.

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Posted by Staff on May 30, 2013. Filed under Columns, Editorial Columns, Research Report. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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