Adults with migraines have triple the prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder

March 29, 2017

More than one-quarter of Canadians with migraines have pain that prevent some daily activities and have problems managing their household responsibilities

Generalized anxiety disorder is much more common among adults who have migraines than those without migraine (6% vs. 2%), according to a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto.

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Traumatic brain injuries in emergency departments a substantial economic burden, study finds

By Kelly O’Brien
March 29, 2017

A new study that looked at nearly 134,000 emergency department visits for traumatic brain injury, including concussion, during a one year period in Ontario estimated that those visits had a total cost of $945 million over the lifetimes of those patients.

Medical treatments accounted for $292 million (31 per cent) of the estimated lifetime costs, and lost productivity amounted to $653 million (69 per cent), according to the report, published online in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Science.

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Blood test unlocks new frontier in treating depression

March 29, 2017

Doctors for the first time can determine which medication is more likely to help a patient overcome depression, according to research that pushes the medical field beyond what has essentially been a guessing game of prescribing antidepressants.

A blood test that measures a certain type of protein level provides an immediate tool for physicians who until now have relied heavily on patient questionnaires to choose a treatment, said Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, who led the research at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care.

“Currently, our selection of depression medications is not any more superior than flipping a coin, and yet that is what we do. Now we have a biological explanation to guide treatment of depression,” said Dr. Trivedi, Director of the depression center, a cornerstone of UT Southwestern’s Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute.

The study demonstrated that measuring a patient’s C-reactive protein (CRP) levels through a simple finger-prick blood test can help doctors prescribe a medication that is more likely to work. Utilizing this test in clinical visits could lead to a significant boost in the success rate of depressed patients who commonly struggle to find effective treatments.

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Harnessing brain’s internal reserves might help treat epilepsy

March 29, 2017

In a study published in Brain Research, biophysicists from the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics (ITEB) of the Russian Academy of Sciences and MIPT have shown that drug-induced activation of the endocannabinoid system of the brain leads to reduced or completely suppressed epileptic activity in test animals.

Epilepsy is one of the most common chronic neurological disorders affecting humans. It is characterized by recurrent convulsive seizures. Depending on which part of the brain is affected by the pathology, various types of epilepsy are identified. If seizures originate in the temporal lobe of the brain, temporal lobe epilepsy is diagnosed. Along with their colleagues from MIPT, researchers from the Laboratory of Systemic Organization of Neurons at ITEB discovered an efficient way of protecting the temporal lobe from pathological changes that arise as epilepsy progresses.

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Software-based system improves the ability to determine the cause of ischemic stroke

March 29, 2017

Determining the cause of an ischemic stroke – one caused by an interruption of blood supply – is critical to preventing a second stroke and is a primary focus in the evaluation of stroke patients. But despite that importance, physicians have long lacked a robust and objective means of doing so. Now a team of investigators at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the MGH Stroke Service have developed a software package that provides evidence-based, automated support for diagnosing the cause of stroke. Their study validating the package – called Causative Classification of Stroke (CCS) – was published online in JAMA Neurology.

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Brain stimulation improves schizophrenia-like cognitive problems

March 28, 2017

Cerebellar stimulation restores missing brain wave in rats and corrects timing deficit

“A beautiful, lobular structure,” is how Krystal Parker describes the cerebellum—a brain region located at the base of the skull just above the spinal column. The cerebellum is most commonly associated with movement control, but work from Parker’s lab and others is gradually revealing a much more complex role in cognition that positions the cerebellum as a potential target for treating diseases that affect thinking, attention, and planning, such as schizophrenia.

About 20 years ago, Nancy Andreasen, a nationally recognized expert on schizophrenia and brain imaging and a UI faculty member for more than 40 years, was among the first to suggest that the poor mental coordination seen in schizophrenia might be due to disruption of extended brain circuits involving the cerebellum and the frontal cortex. Parker received training with Andreasen in schizophrenia research and subsequently joined the lab of Nandakumar Narayanan at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine where she set out to explicitly map these connections.

In a new study, the UI researchers show that stimulating the cerebellum in rats with schizophrenia-like thinking problems normalizes brain activity in the frontal cortex and corrects the rats’ ability to estimate the passage of time—a cognitive deficit that is characteristic in people with schizophrenia.

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Vanderbilt study finds natural chemical helps brain adapt to stress

by Bill Snyder
March 28, 2017

A natural signaling molecule that activates cannabinoid receptors in the brain plays a critical role in stress-resilience — the ability to adapt to repeated and acute exposures to traumatic stress, according to researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The findings in a mouse model could have broad implications for the potential treatment and prevention of mood and anxiety disorders, including major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), they reported this week in the journal Nature Communications.

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‘Medicinal food’ diet counters onset of type 1 diabetes

March 28, 2017

Monash University’s Biomedicine Discovery Institute researchers have led an international study that found – for the first time – that a diet yielding high amounts of the short-chain fatty acids acetate and butyrate provided a beneficial effect on the immune system and protected against type 1 or juvenile diabetes.

Autoimmune type 1 diabetes occurs when immune cells called autoreactive T cells attack and destroy the cells that produce insulin – the hormone that regulates our blood sugar levels.

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Insight into cause of brain disorders may aid quest for treatments

March 28, 2017

Fresh discoveries about a range of neurological disorders may inform the development of new therapies.

Scientists have revealed molecular details of the biological causes of an autism spectrum disorder that affects one in 10,000 girls - known as Rett syndrome - and related intellectual disabilities.

Their study helps show how flaws in key proteins can prevent the function of a neurological gene - known as MeCP2 - which is linked to the conditions.

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Effects of at-home cognitive stimulation therapy on dementia patients and caregivers

March 28, 2017

Individual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (iCST), an intervention carried out at home by family caregivers, has little impact on the cognition of patients with dementia, a new study has found, but boosts the quality of the relationship between the patient and caregiver. The new study, a randomized, controlled trial by Martin Orrell of the University of Nottingham, UK, and colleagues, is published in PLOS Medicine.

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New strategy identifies potential drugs and targets for brain repair

March 28, 2017

Researchers have discovered drugs that activate signaling pathways leading to specific adult brain cell types from stem cells in the mouse brain, according to a study publishing on 28 March in the open access journal PLOS Biology by Kasum Azim of the University of Zurich and colleagues from INSERM/university of Lyon and University of Portsmouth. The results may open new avenues for drug development aimed at treatment of degenerative brain disorders.

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Therapies that target dementia in early stages critical to success

March 28, 2017

Targeting dementia in the earlier stages of the condition could be critical for the success of future therapies, say researchers from the University of Bristol, who have found that the very earliest symptoms of dementia might be due to abnormal stability in brain cell connections rather than the death of brain tissue, which comes after.

A collaborative study between researchers from Bristol’s School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, and the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company, studied the behaviour of synapses, connections that help transmit information between the brain’s nerve cells, in a rodent model of human frontotemporal dementia over the course of the disease progression.

Using cutting-edge microscopy techniques the team were able to image inside the brains of rodents and found that, even before the disease causes synapses and neurons start to die off, the synaptic connections already display unusual properties.

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Man with quadriplegia employs injury bridging technologies to move again—just by thinking

March 28, 2017

First recipient of implanted brain-recording and muscle-stimulating systems reanimates limb that had been stilled for eight years

Bill Kochevar grabbed a mug of water, drew it to his lips and drank through the straw.

His motions were slow and deliberate, but then Kochevar hadn’t moved his right arm or hand for eight years.

And it took some practice to reach and grasp just by thinking about it.

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Dementia: The right to rehabilitation

March 28, 2017

Rehabilitation is as important for people with dementia as it is for people with physical disabilities, according to a leading dementia expert.

Linda Clare, Professor of Clinical Psychology of Aging and Dementia at the University of Exeter, said people with dementia have a right to cognitive rehabilitation – and it is as relevant for them as physical rehabilitation for people with physical impairments.

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Neurological Diseases Cost the U.S. Nearly $800 Billion Per Year

March 28, 2017

A new paper published in the Annals of Neurology reports the most common neurological diseases pose a serious annual financial burden for the nation.

The report notes that the current estimated annual cost to American society of just nine of the most common neurological diseases is staggering, totaling $789 billion in 2014 dollars. These conditions include Alzheimer's disease and other dementias, low back pain, stroke, traumatic brain injury, migraine, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and Parkinson's disease.

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Cracking the code of Huntington's disease

March 28, 2017

Huntington’s disease is caused by a gene mutation that causes a protein to build up in the brain. In a world first, EPFL scientists have synthesized and studied modified forms of a mutant part of the protein, deepening our understanding of how it contributes to the disease, and pointing to new therapeutic strategies for treating it.

Huntington’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes patients to lose their ability to move, speak, and even think. It is caused by a gene mutation that produces an abnormal form of the protein huntingtin, which aggregates and builds up inside neurons of the cortex and striatum.

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Protein That Regulates Brain Cell Connections Could Be New Target for Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

March 27, 2017

Experiments removing Ephexin5 protein prevented deficits in animal models of the memory-robbing disease

In experiments with a protein called Ephexin5 that appears to be elevated in the brain cells of Alzheimer’s disease patients and mouse models of the disease, Johns Hopkins researchers say removing it prevents animals from developing Alzheimer’s characteristic memory losses. In a report on the studies, published online March 27 in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, the researchers say the findings could eventually advance development of drugs that target Ephexin5 to prevent or treat symptoms of the disorder.

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MicroRNA Treatment Restores Nerve Insulation, Limb Function in Mice with MS

March 27, 2017

Study Sheds Light on Possible Therapeutic Approach for Neurodegenerative Disease

Scientists partially re-insulated ravaged nerves in mouse models of multiple sclerosis (MS) and restored limb mobility by treating the animals with a small non-coding RNA called a microRNA.

In a study published online March 27 in Developmental Cell, researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center report that treatment with a microRNA called miR-219 restarted production of a substance called myelin in nerves of the central nervous system. Myelin forms a protective sheath around nerves, allowing them to efficiently transmit electrical impulses that stimulate movement.

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Genetics reveal mysteries of hard-to-treat bacterial infection in cystic fibrosis

March 27, 2017

New UBC research on bacteria that cause major problems for those with cystic fibrosis reveals clues as to how it proliferates for so long in the lungs and offers new ideas for treatments to explore.

“Someone with cystic fibrosis has about one less teaspoon of water in the mucous in their lungs, making it much thicker,” said Corey Nislow, a professor in UBC’s faculty of pharmaceutical science. “We wanted to know how the airway environment and the bacteria interact and evolve.”

The research involved a bacteria called Burkholderia cenocepacia. These bacteria usually live in the soil and the environment but they can become opportunistic pathogens in cystic fibrosis patients. In the 1990s, a Burkholderia epidemic broke out in Canada and the United Kingdom, resulting in hundreds of infections in B.C. alone. Today, the bacteria still wreaks havoc as it can be passed from patient to patient both inside and outside of the hospital. Frequently, if a patient is fighting an infection, they are disqualified from receiving a potentially life-saving lung transplant.

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Scientists Discover New Class of Anti-Diabetes Compounds that Reduce Liver Glucose Production

By Eric Sauter
March 27, 2017

Scientists may have found a new tool for studying—and maybe even treating—Type 2 diabetes, the form of diabetes considered responsible for close to 95 percent of cases in the United States.

A team of scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and the Yale University School of Medicine, among others, have identified a new class of compounds that reduce production of glucose in the liver. One of these compounds, designed and optimized by TSRI scientists, significantly improves the health of diabetic animal models by reducing glucose levels in the blood, increasing insulin sensitivity and improving glucose balance.

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