Neural Transplant Reduces Absence Epilepsy Seizures in Mice

New research from North Carolina State University pinpoints the areas of the cerebral cortex that are affected in mice with absence epilepsy and shows that transplanting embryonic neural cells into these areas can alleviate symptoms of the disease by reducing seizure activity. The work may help identify the areas of the human brain affected in absence epilepsy and lead to new therapies for sufferers.

Mice with “Mohawks” Help Scientists Link Autism to Two Biological Pathways in Brain

“Aha” moments are rare in medical research, scientists say. As rare, they add, as finding mice with Mohawk-like hairstyles.

But both events happened in a lab at NYU Langone Medical Center, months after an international team of neuroscientists bred hundreds of mice with a suspect genetic mutation tied to autism spectrum disorders.

Almost all the grown mice, the NYU Langone team observed, had sideways,“overgroomed” hair with a highly stylized center hairline between their ears and hardly a tuft elsewhere. Mice typically groom each other’s hair.

Eavesdropping on brain cell chatter

Findings suggest that astrocytes in the mossy fiber system may act as a switch that reacts to large amounts of neuronal activity by raising their levels of calcium. These calcium increases occur over multiple seconds, a relatively long time period compared to that seen in neurons. The spatial extent of the astrocyte calcium increases was also relatively large in comparison to the size of the synapse.

A new cell type is implicated in epilepsy caused by traumatic brain injury

A new study in mice identifies increased levels of a specific neurotransmitter as a contributing factor connecting traumatic brain injury (TBI) to post-traumatic epilepsy. The findings suggest that damage to brain cells called interneurons disrupts neurotransmitter levels and plays a role in the development of epilepsy after a traumatic brain injury.

Signal found to enhance survival of new brain cells

A specialized type of brain cell that tamps down stem cell activity ironically, perhaps, encourages the survival of the stem cells' progeny, Johns Hopkins researchers report. Understanding how these new brain cells "decide" whether to live or die and how to behave is of special interest because changes in their activity are linked to neurodegenerative 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.

A promising clinical trial to reduce the severity of autistic disorders

Sixty children between 3 and 11 years old with autism or Aspergers syndrome were treated for 3 months either with a diuretic to reduce their intracellular chloride levels or with a placebo. Although this therapy is not curative, it nevertheless reduced the autistic disorders severity in three-quarters of the children. The researchers have filed a request for authorisation to perform a multi-centre European clinical trial in order to determine more precisely the population concerned by this therapy.