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Injury of the spinal cord is a traumatic and life-changing event that affects over three million people worldwide. Over the last decade, researchers have been examining ways to help repair injured individuals through the use of stem cell transplantation. Significant progress has been made in this area yet many unanswered questions remain. For the laboratory of Dr. Wolfram Tetzlaff at the University of British Columbia, these gaps need to be filled to ensure successful treatments in the future.
Neil Merovitch is an impressive and resilient young man who has very personal reasons to believe in the importance of fundamental research. At a young age, he was diagnosed with dystonia, a devastating disease in which normal movement is impaired due to neurological dysfunction. Individuals with this condition deal with sustained or repetitive, and often painful, muscle contractions.
Yet from the moment you meet Neil, his passion for fundamental research is clear. “I’ve always been interested in research,” he says. “It’s fascinating for me to explore the link between brain and behaviour each and every day.” And dystonia does not prevent him from pursuing his goal, which is to obtain a PhD in neuroscience and physiology from the University of Toronto.
One example of the latter recently came from the joint laboratory of Freda Miller and David Kaplan, at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. They found that a type of cell known for transmitting information between nerve cells also plays another vital role. It instructs stem cells that build the brain to make another type of cell called an oligodendrocyte. This cell is crucial for making sure communication and information transmission in the brain happen at the right time in the right place. The results were published in the journal, Neuron, http://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(17)30344-6.
Dr. David Park has spent countless hours exploring how deactivating a gene impacts the way a cell handles the very nutrients it needs for its own survival and proper function. To Park and his research team, it’s an essential piece of the puzzle that is Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s affects 10 million people worldwide, causing a degeneration of the body’s nerve cells and a progressive loss of motor control.
Deteriorating memory function is a scary, life changing symptom associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) – a neurodegenerative disease exhibited by cognitive declines such as speech, behaviour and thinking processes. Even though it is the most common form of dementia and the prevalence is continuously rising, there is no cure. While there are medications to help with symptoms, the disease ultimately results in mortality.
Researchers from the McGill Group for Suicide Studies, based at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University’s Department of Psychiatry, have just published research in the American Journal of Psychiatry that suggests that the long-lasting effects of traumatic childhood experiences, like severe abuse, may be due to an impaired structure and functioning of cells in the anterior cingulate cortex. This is a part of the brain which plays an important role in the regulation of emotions and mood.
New research from the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health asks: Can “good” cholesterol protect against age-related cognitive decline? A trio of papers from researchers in Dr. Cheryl Wellington’s lab illustrate new context for the role of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) – commonly described as good cholesterol – in protecting the brain against disease.
Major depression affects the expression of genes in the brains of women and men differently
Major depression presents itself quite differently in women and men, and this dimorphism would have genomic foundations, suggests a study that has just been published in Nature Medicine. According to the first author of this study, Benoit Labonté of the CERVO Brain Research Centre at Université Laval, these differences are such that the search for new antidepressants would benefit from targeting mechanisms specific to each sex.
Abnormalities shown to first appear in brain networks involved in sensory processing