Turning human stem cells into brain cells sheds light on neural development

Medical researchers have manipulated human stem cells into producing types of brain cells known to play important roles in neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy, schizophrenia and autism. The new model cell system allows neuroscientists to investigate normal brain development, as well as to identify specific disruptions in biological signals that may contribute to neuropsychiatric diseases.

Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice

For the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into nerve cells that helped mice regain the ability to learn and remember.

A study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the first to show that human stem cells can successfully implant themselves in the brain and then heal neurological deficits, says senior author Su-Chun Zhang, a professor of neuroscience and neurology.

Fragile X makes brain cells talk too much

"We don't know precisely how information is encoded in the brain, but we presume that some signals are important and some are noise," says senior author Vitaly Klyachko, PhD, assistant professor of cell biology and physiology. "Our theoretical model suggests that the changes we detected may make it much more difficult for brain cells to distinguish the important signals from the noise."

Cooling may prevent trauma-induced epilepsy

"Traumatic head injury is the leading cause of acquired epilepsy in young adults, and in many cases the seizures cant be controlled with medication," says senior author Matthew Smyth, MD, associate professor of neurological surgery and of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "If we can confirm coolings effectiveness in human trials, this approach may give us a safe and relatively simple way to prevent epilepsy in these patients."

Potential treatment prevents damage from prolonged seizures

Researchers at Emory have been looking for something different: anti-inflammatory compounds that can be administered after acute status epilepticus has ended to reduce damage to the brain. They have discovered a potential lead compound that can reduce mortality when given to mice after drug-induced seizures.

Genome-wide Atlas of Gene Enhancers in the Brain On-line

Understanding how the brain develops and functions, and how it malfunctions in neurological disorders, remains one of the most daunting challenges in contemporary science, says Axel Visel, a geneticist with Berkeley Labs Genomics Division. Weve created a genome-wide digital atlas of gene enhancers in the human brain the switches that tell genes when and where they need to be switched on or off. This enhancer atlas will enable other scientists to study in more detail how individual genes are regulated during development of the brain, and how genetic mutations may impact human neurological disorders.

Temple scientists find cancer-causing virus in the brain, potential connection to epilepsy

They have shown for the first time that HPV16 may be present in the human brain, and found that when they added a viral protein to the brains of fetal mice, the mice all demonstrated the same developmental problems in the cerebral cortex associated with this type of epilepsy, called focal cortical dysplasia type IIB (FCDIIB). The findings suggest that the virus could play a role in the development of epilepsy.

Protein identified that can disrupt embryonic brain development and neuron migration

New research by Dr. Eve Seuntjens and Dr. Veronique van den Berghe of the Department of Development and Regeneration (Danny Huylebroeck laboratory, Faculty of Medicine) has identified two proteins, Sip1 and Unc5b, that play an important role in the development and migration of interneurons to the cerebral cortex- a breakthrough in our understanding of early brain development.