Imagine a fender bender at an intersection. It’s a common occurrence and, usually, someone is at fault. But ask any police officer and you’ll find the blame may not be all that easy to determine. The stories from the drivers involved often oppose one another and eye-witness reports also may reveal striking differences in how the accident unfolded.
“The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”
At one time or another, everyone experiences moments of social isolation, when there is no one around and the world is confined to one’s own existence. In short bursts these moments of solitude can be therapeutic and may lead to moments of emotional regeneration or creativity. Yet when loneliness becomes chronic, the effects may be deleterious to one’s emotional health.
Alzheimer’s disease is growing in Canada at an unprecedented rate. At the moment, over half a million people suffer from this debilitating condition but that number is expected to nearly double over the next generation. The effects of this illness are tragic, such as memory loss as well as changes in behaviour, judgement, and normal daily function. For this reason, understanding this disease and finding meaningful treatments are considered a priority.
As Alzheimer’s progresses, a protein, known as amyloid-β, begins to clump together, forming what is officially called a plaque. As this happens, the neurological landscape changes as neurons begin to die off. Despite decades of research, the mechanism behind this loss remains, for the most part, a mystery.
Intellectual disability is characterized by significant impairment of cognitive and adaptive functions and affects 1-3 in 100 individuals worldwide. A few years ago, scientists at CHU Ste.Justine reported for the first time that genetic mutations in the gene SYNGAP1 cause a form of intellectual disability, which is often associated with autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy. Since then, DNA sequencing of SYNGAP1 in several groups of individuals with intellectual disability in Canada, the US and Europe has revealed that pathogenic mutations in SYNGAP1 are one of the most common cause of genetic intellectual disability.
Scientists at McMaster University’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute in collaboration with Sick Children’s Hospital have discovered genetic alterations in the gene DIXDC1 in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This gene was found to change the way brain cells grow and communicate.
This finding, published today in Cell Reports, provides new insights into ASD that will guide identification of new medications for people with ASD. This is critical because ASD affects one in 68 individuals, and there are no medications that target the core symptoms of this complex disorder.
It is known that neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s cause the gradual death of brain neurons. But what exactly are the mechanisms that go awry to cause degeneration of nerve cells? A team of researchers from Université Laval and the Quebec Mental Health Research Institute investigated the matter and show, in an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the role played by two key regulatory proteins in the cascade of reactions leading to the death of neurons in Parkinson’s disease.
3D depth-sensing camera shown to measure walking difficulties
A commonly used device found in living rooms around the world could be a cheap and effective means of evaluating the walking difficulties of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
The Microsoft Kinect is a 3D depth-sensing camera used in interactive video activities such as tennis and dancing. It can be hooked up to an Xbox gaming console or a Windows computer.
A team of researchers led by McGill University postdoctoral fellow Farnood Gholami, supervised by Jozsef Kövecses from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Centre for Intelligent Machines, collaborated with Daria Trojan, a physiatrist in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery working at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, to test whether the Kinect could detect the differences in gait of MS patients compared to healthy individuals.
Study confirms the existence of a molecular transport mechanism involved in fragile X syndrome
A team from the Centre de recherche de l’Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Québec– Université Laval has furthered our understanding of fragile X syndrome, the leading genetic cause of mental retardation in children. The article published by these researchers in a recent issue of PLoS Genetics confirms the model developed over 14 years by the team of Professor Edward Khandjian, and reveals new elements.
Discovery could lead to ways to mitigate effects of jet lag and shift work
The brain’s biological clock stimulates thirst in the hours before sleep, according to a study published in the journalNature by McGill University researchers.
The finding — along with the discovery of the molecular process behind it — provides the first insight into how the clock regulates a physiological function. And while the research was conducted in mice, “the findings could point the way toward drugs that target receptors implicated in problems that people experience from shift work or jet lag,”