McMaster University Scientists have published 2 studies identifying which gene is responsible for causing brain development disorders when several genes are deleted in an individual’s genome, providing a path forward for developing new therapies.
In Ontario, there are more than 300,000 children and youth affected by a neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and intellectual disability. These disorders typically cause long-term problems and impact the day-to-day life of affected individuals and families. There are no specific treatments, and medications have side-effects that can be severe in children and young adults.
Researchers at Western University have uncovered a unique neurobiological pathway triggered by head trauma which underlies both Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
CTE is a fatal neurodegenerative disease shown to be a result of repeated head trauma, and is associated with elite athletes involved in contact sports. Previous research has shown that between 4 and 6 per cent of patients with CTE will also simultaneously show clinical features of ALS – that’s 800 fold higher than the prevalence of ALS in the general population.
New research could provide clinicians with insights regarding clinical progression to dementia
Doctors who work with individuals at risk of developing dementia have long suspected that patients who do not realize they experience memory problems are at greater risk of seeing their condition worsen in a short time frame, a suspicion that now has been confirmed by a team of McGill University clinician scientists.
Concussion affects the developing adolescent brain and may delay key cognitive processes, hampering the brain’s ability to change focus and pay attention. New research from Dr. Naznin Virji-Babul’s team, published today in the journal ASN Neuro, shows that concussion changes the way that different neural networks interact, stalling the brain in a state of cognitive inflexibility.
Even at rest, the brain is continuously active, processing and exchanging information. This active interaction between different parts of the brain is necessary for a person to be aware of her surroundings, or to be able to focus on his work or switch between tasks.
For the past three years, Dr. Terrance Snutch and research associate Dr. John Tyson have been working with Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) to develop a novel deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing tool with promising implications for personalized medicine. About the size of a mobile phone, the MinION device is a USB-powered DNA sequencer capable of mapping complex genomic structures; with it, researchers were recently able to assemble a complete human genome using reads hundreds of times larger than has previously been possible with conventional methods.
Research from the IRCM contributes to our understanding of how our brain locates painful stimuli
When you experience a painful sensation such as touching a hot stove with your hand, the pain is restricted to your hand, allowing you to remove it quickly from the source of heat. How does the brain know that the pain is indeed coming from your hand and not from anywhere else on your body? Work recently published by Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) researchers help clarifying this question.
University of Calgary research study benefits people with severe essential tremor
Elias Pharaon is 85 years old and can sign his name for the first time in five years thanks to a new way to do brain surgery. Performed by a team of University of Calgary physicians and researchers with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) is a new technology that allows surgeons to access the brain without cutting the skin or drilling into the skull.
Pimozide, known for treating certain psychiatric conditions, may stabilize progression of the disease. The University of Calgary’s Lawrence Korngut is leading a clinical trial with nine hospital centres across Canada to recruit patients for further study.
If you took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, you may have wondered where the money raised by the millions of people who poured buckets of ice water over their heads went. Some of those funds are being invested in a University of Calgary research study investigating a potential drug treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients.
UCalgary researchers discover stress isn’t just contagious; it alters the brain on a cellular level
In a new study in Nature Neuroscience, Jaideep Bains, PhD, and his team at the Cumming School of Medicine’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), at the University of Calgary have discovered that stress transmitted from others can change the brain in the same way as a real stress does. The study, in mice, also shows that the effects of stress on the brain are reversed in female mice following a social interaction. This was not true for male mice.
Treating people affected by Parkinson’s disease by grafting healthy neurons is an attractive idea which has not yet given the anticipated results up until now. Even if grafted neurons survive, they are not able to recreate the dopaminergic neuron circuits that are essential for normal brain function. An international team led by Martin Lévesque, professor at Université Laval and researcher at the CERVO Brain Research Centre, might have figured out why. In a recent edition of Nature Communications, the researchers propose a “recipe” to produce neurons that could reconstitute the neuron circuits that are destroyed by Parkinson’s disease.
A study by a group of researchers led by Alain Dagher from The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University has tested the theory that brain degeneration in Parkinson’s disease (PD) originates in subcortical regions and spreads along neural networks to the cerebral cortex. By analyzing data on PD patients and healthy controls collected over one year, the researchers found that brain regions closely connected to subcortical regions showed the most degeneration over the one-year period in PD patients, and that this happens earlier than previously thought.
A discovery by Hideto Takahashi and his team paves the way for a better understanding of the mechanisms of neuropsychiatric disorders.
Did you know? Your body is made up of a hundred billion nerve cells that, like small computers, receive, process and deliver crucial information to your body. These machines are your neurons. They form the very foundation of your nervous system. It is through them that your brain converts the data transmitted by your retina into images and that your mood adapts to the situations you are living.
Volume in brain region linked to physiological changes characteristic of AD
New research has drawn a link between changes in the brain’s anatomy and biomarkers that are known to appear at the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), findings that could one day provide a sensitive but non-invasive test for AD before cognitive symptoms appear.
A recent publication by Caroline Ménard shows that chronic stress, as occurs in cases of bullying, can make the blood-brain barrier more permeable to contaminants and microbes that may be in the blood. As the brains of depressed individuals show signs of inflammation, Caroline Ménard and her colleagues had hypothesized that leakiness of the blood brain barrier could allow molecules and microbes to reach the brain, causing inflammation.
Learning and memory are crucial parts of human cognition, yet the biological processes that govern how we learn and store different types of memories are poorly understood. Although a cellular process called synaptic plasticity has long been thought to contribute to learning and memory, many of the neural mechanisms behind synaptic plasticity have remained unclear.
In a recently published study entitled The C-terminal tails of endogenous GluA1 and GluA2 differentially contribute to hippocampal synaptic plasticity and learning, researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) have discovered the precise neuronal mechanisms that can regulate synaptic plasticity to influence distinct forms of memory. We sat down with Dr. Zhengping Jia, a Senior Scientist in the Neurosciences & Mental Health Program at SickKids who led the study, published online in Nature Neuroscience.
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
Promising finding suggests odour identification tests may help scientists track the evolution of the disease in persons at risk
By the time you start losing your memory, it’s almost too late. That’s because the damage to your brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may already have been going on for as long as twenty years. Which is why there is so much scientific interest in finding ways to detect the presence of the disease early on. Scientists now believe that simple odour identification tests may help track the progression of the disease before symptoms actually appear, particularly among those at risk.
Scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) have used the gene-editing tool CRISPR to correct a disease-causing mutation in mice with a form of congenital muscular dystrophy, MDC1A. The findings, published in the July 17 online edition of Nature Medicine, show significant improvement in muscle strength and function among the mice treated with CRISPR, with no remaining signs of paralysis.
MDC1A is a rare neuromuscular disease affecting one in 150,000 worldwide. It is caused by a mutation in a gene called laminin alpha 2 and is characterized at birth by muscle weakness and low muscle tone, as well as brain abnormalities. Babies born with this condition eventually lose all muscle function and live an average of 30 years.
Researchers train brains to use different regions for same task
Practice might not always make perfect, but it’s essential for learning a sport or a musical instrument. It’s also the basis of brain training, an approach that holds potential as a non-invasive therapy to overcome disabilities caused by neurological disease or trauma.
Research at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University (The Neuro) has shown just how adaptive the brain can be, knowledge that could one day be applied to recovery from conditions such as stroke.