|The Future of Medicine Through Bioengineering - Ayden Jacob|
"Both too much and too little water in the brain can be life-threatening. Water transport is essential to sustain brain volume and function because it affects the concentration of signal molecules in the brain," explains Dr. Francesca Ciccolini, who leads a research group at the Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences. "The GABAA receptors are extremely important in medicine in their biological function as inhibitory regulators of neuronal activity," explains Francesca Ciccolini. "Modulators of GABAA receptors are commonly used as medications in a broad spectrum of medical treatments, for example to induce sedation and muscle relaxation, to prevent seizures, to reduce anxiety and to counteract symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Hence our results also point to the risk of therapies that involve the use of GABAA receptor modulators and thus have potential side effects on the basic regulation of water exchange within the brain." . "Our findings offer up new possibilities for regulating the water content in the human brain," explains Ciccolini.
"This is the first epigenetic modification of a gene that seems to be protective against neuronal disease," says lead author Corey McMillan, PhD, research assistant professor of Neurology in the Frontotemporal Degeneration Center in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The ability to turn down genes which are known to be responsible for ALS in about 30% of patients may work to protect the brain from further erosion. " Expansions in the offending gene, C9orf72, have been linked with TAR DNA binding protein (TDP-43) which is the pathological source that causes ALS and FTD." "Understanding the role of C9orf72 has the possibility to be truly translational and improve the lives of patients suffering from these devastating diseases," says senior author, Edward Lee, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Neuropathology in Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Penn.
"Discovering that amyloid begins to accumulate so early in life is unprecedented," said lead investigator Changiz Geula, research professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "This is very significant. We know that amyloid, when present for long periods of time, is bad for you." "This points to why these neurons die early," Geula said. "The small clumps of amyloid may be a key reason. The lifelong accumulation of amyloid in these neurons likely contributes to the vulnerability of these cells to pathology in aging and loss in Alzheimer's." "It's also possible that the clumps get so large, the degradation machinery in the cell can't get rid of them, and they clog it up," Geula said.
An interesting brain imaging study suggests that cerebral blood flow recovery in the brain may be used as a a potential biomarker to determine the prognosis and outcomes of patients with concussions. "To our knowledge, this study provides the first prospective evidence of reduced CBF and subsequent recovery following concussion in a homogenous sample of collegiate football athletes and also demonstrates the potential of quantified CBF as an objective biomarker for concussion," the study concludes.