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New Brain Link As Cause Of Schizophrenia

A lack of specific brain receptors has been linked with schizophrenia in new research by scientists at Newcastle University.

In work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team has found that NMDA receptors are essential in modifying brain oscillations – electrical wave patterns – which are altered in patients with schizophrenia.

They now want to investigate whether optimising the function of the receptors, which are already know to be involved in making memories, could lead to a new way of treating the mental illness.

Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious mental health conditions in the UK and can cause a range of different psychological symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions. One in 100 people will experience at least one episode of acute schizophrenia during their lifetime and it affects men and women equally. While its exact cause is unknown, most experts believe that the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Dr Mark Cunningham, who led the research at Newcastle University, UK, says: “We have shown that by selectively targeting receptors we can modify the dynamics of the brain. Our hope would be that in the long term this could lead to a method for actually improving brain function, not only for people with schizophrenia but potentially for many other brain conditions.

“We intend to continue looking in more detail at brain receptors so we can build on our understanding of how the brain works. This could open a new route for the design of drugs and a better understanding of how existing drugs work.”

The brain is capable of producing different types of cortical oscillations. The Newcastle University team has identified a difference in one particular type – termed a gamma frequency oscillation – which has previously been shown to be altered in schizophrenia patients.

They examined the function of individual brain neurons in rats and applied ketamine, a drug which mimics many of the symptoms of schizophrenia in humans and animals and which is also a common recreational drug. They found that ketamine modified the frequency of cortical oscillations associated with normal brain function by blocking NMDA receptors.

NMDA receptors are already known to be involved in making memories. This new research demonstrates that the function of NMDA receptors on one particular type of brain cell, an inhibitory interneuron, is critically important for modifying the oscillation rate of the brain.

The Newcastle team believes that the disrupted patterns of oscillations seen in patients suffering from schizophrenia may be either due to this inhibitory brain neuron having a lack of NMDA receptors or that the NMDA receptors on this neuron are not functioning fully. As a result of this research, scientists have a whole new area to explore in the treatment of schizophrenia.

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Academic paper: NMDA Receptor-Dependent Switching Between Different Gamma Rhythm-Generating Microcircuits in Entorhinal Cortex. Steven Middleton, Jozsi Jalics,, Tilman Kispersky, Fiona E.N. LeBeau, Anita K.Roopun, Nancy Kopell, Miles A. Whittington & Mark O. Cunningham

Published in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS): BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES: Neuroscience

Funded by: The Royal Society, The Wellcome Trust, MRC, National Science Foundation, NIH.

Source: Karen Bidewell

Newcastle University

Mathematical Modeling Of Migratory Birds, Domestic Poultry And Bird Flu

The persistence and recurrence of H5N1 avian influenza in endemic regions can largely be blamed on movement and infection by migratory birds. Trade in poultry, poultry products and caged birds, and movement of wild birds also account for H5N1 prevalence in these areas. Several recent outbreaks of avian influenza have suggested strong evidence of migratory birds playing a role in transmitting the virus over long distances.

In a paper published last week in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, authors Lydia Bourouiba, Stephen A. Gourley, Rongsong Liu, and Jianhong Wu analyze the interaction between non-migratory poultry and migratory birds in order to investigate the role of the latter in the spread of H5N1.

Although avian influenza rarely infects humans, occasional cases of human infection have been observed since the late nineties. Moreover, it is a huge problem in the poultry industry since infected flocks can cause a drain on resources and threaten food supply. It can also result in significant reduction in wild bird populations, which is of great ecological concern.

“How the interaction of a migratory bird species with domestic poultry contributes to the spread and persistence of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus is a question of profound importance to the control of avian influenza spread, and to the effort of mitigating the impact of the disease on the domestic poultry industry,” says corresponding author Stephen Gourley, researcher in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Surrey. “Answering this question requires a truly interdisciplinary approach involving collaborations from different fields. Mathematical modeling can play a significant role in solving such a complex problem in which experiments are difficult and surveillance data is limited.”

In order to determine how migratory birds might contribute to disease in poultry, the authors first analyze the susceptibility of migratory birds to infection by using a model to trace their path along flyways. “Patches” represent 4 locations: breeding and wintering sites, and layovers on outgoing and return routes where birds stop to rest and feed. The migration flyway is expressed mathematically by a one-dimensional closed curve starting and ending at the breeding patch. Reaction-advection equations describe the migration of birds along this flight path.

The quantity of birds susceptible to infection is calculated by determining the density of susceptible birds along the flying route. The time of journey for the susceptible birds is the distance between each patch divided by their mean flight velocity. In-flight mortalities are also accounted for in the equation. Assuming that migratory birds can only contract the virus while in patches (and not while in transit), the probability of infection of a bird is determined based on its contact rate with infected migratory birds and infected poultry, and time spent in a patch. The time of stay depends on several factors, such as the rate at which birds enter the patch, length and duration of their journey, energy consumed on their incoming flight, and the nourishment required to proceed.

The model factors in the observation that birds encounter very different conditions at different stages on their migration route. In reality, migratory birds have more than a single stopover in their fall and spring routes; these are lumped together as one each for the sake of simplicity. The population of poultry on each patch is assumed to be a constant, as is the length of the flyway and average flight velocity.

Using their model, the authors analyze the dynamics of migratory Common Teals and their interaction with farmed poultry in the Poyang Lake area of China. Their simulations demonstrate that the arrival of migratory birds in winter can introduce avian influenza to poultry in disease-free periods. Once the flu becomes endemic in the wintering location, the result is sustenance of the flu in migratory birds themselves. “It is amazing that our model, which starts from surprisingly simple assumptions, can predict when there will be an outbreak of the disease, and how limited data from the Chinese Poyang Lake region can be used to parametrize and validate the model,” says Gourley.

Future research should be focused on finding tools that can predict peak disease times, according to the researchers. “Some of our computer simulations suggest that peak disease activity will not always occur in a regular predictable pattern,” Gourley explains. “Irregular intervals from peak to peak pose significant challenges for future theoretical research. Tools that can estimate peak times will be important for designing effective surveillance and for planning intervention strategies.”

In addition, integrating such research with data from international migratory bird surveillance and commercial poultry trade can shed more light on these interactions on a global scale. Many national and international organizations are involved in these efforts. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has been working in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UN FAO) to study the role of wild birds in the geographic spread of H5N1.

“It would be great to have more information about global surveillance of migratory birds and commercial poultry trading so that [our] model can be expanded to understand the disease spread along the network of migratory flyways and commercial trading,” says Gourley. “This shows the importance of continuing and enhancing the current work of the UN FAO and the US Geological Survey.”

Source:
Karthika Muthukumaraswamy
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Bone From Blood: Circulating Cells Form Bone Outside The Normal Skeleton

The accepted dogma has been that bone-forming cells, derived from the body’s connective tissue, are the only cells able to form the skeleton. However, new research shows that specialized cells in the blood share a common origin with white blood cells derived from the bone marrow and that these bloodstream cells are capable of forming bone at sites distant from the original skeleton. This work, published online this month in the journal Stem Cells, represents the first example of how circulating cells may contribute to abnormal bone formation.

The discovery that circulating blood cells can form bone outside the normal skeleton was made while studying a rare genetic disease of misplaced bone growth, fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, or FOP.

“Identifying circulating cells with bone-forming potential in humans has important implications for FOP, as well as more common disorders where bone is formed outside the skeleton, such as in end-stage aortic valve disease, following head and spinal cord injury, and after hip and knee replacements,” says senior author Robert J. Pignolo, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “This type of aberrant bone growth also occurs after severe trauma, such as blast injuries suffered by Iraqi war veterans, and its study may help us understand how bone forms after the development of the skeleton has ceased, with possible applications in bone diseases where only scarce or poor quality bone forms.” Pignolo is also the Director of the Ralston-Penn Clinic for Osteoporosis & Related Bone Disorders

The researchers analyzed blood samples from patients with FOP and unaffected individuals, isolating cells that could form bone when transplanted subcutaneously into animals. The isolated cells were characterized using surface and other markers, which identified them as being derived from bone marrow. The researchers also examined tissue from FOP patients that had formed new bone, and found that these cells had migrated into the early sites of the lesion.

“This study provides an explanation for how bone-forming cells could seed sites of injury and inflammation that subsequently develop ossifications outside the skeleton,” says Frederick S. Kaplan, MD, Isaac & Rose Nassau Professor of Orthopedic Molecular Medicine and Director of the Center for FOP & Related Disorders at Penn. “Dr. Pignolo and researchers in his lab demonstrated that these circulating cells are able to home to damaged tissue.”

This work was funded by a National Institutes of Health career development award to Dr. Pignolo and the The Ian Cali Developmental Grants fund of the Center for Research in FOP and Related Disorders. Pignolo is also a staff physician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia.

PENN Medicine is a $3.6 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn’s School of Medicine is currently ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report’s survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to the National Institutes of Health, received over $366 million in NIH grants (excluding contracts) in the 2008 fiscal year. Supporting 1,700 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) includes its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation’s top ten “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, named one of the nation’s “100 Top Hospitals” for cardiovascular care by Thomson Reuters. In addition UPHS includes a primary-care provider network; a faculty practice plan; home care, hospice, and nursing home; three multispecialty satellite facilities; as well as the Penn Medicine at Rittenhouse campus, which offers comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation facilities and outpatient services in multiple specialties.

Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

New Technique Produces Genetically Identical Stem Cells

Adult cells of mice created from genetically reprogrammed cells – so-called induced pluripotent stem (IPS) stem cells – can be triggered via drug to enter an embryonic-stem-cell-like state, without the need for further genetic alteration.

The discovery, which promises to bring new efficiencies to embryonic stem cell research, is reported in the July 1, 2008, online issue of Nature Biotechnology.

“This technical advancement will allow thousands of identical reprogrammed cells to be used in experiments,” says Marius Wernig, one of the paper’s two lead authors and a postdoctoral researcher in Whitehead Member Rudolf Jaenisch’s lab.

“Using these cells could help define the milestones of how cells are reprogrammed and screen for drug-like molecules that replace the potentially cancer-causing viruses used for reprogramming,” adds Christopher Lengner, the other lead author and also a postdoctoral researcher in the Jaenisch’s lab.

In the current work, Wernig and Lengner made mice created in part from the embryonic-stem-cell-like cells known as IPS cells. The IPS cells were created by reprogramming adult skin cells using lentiviruses to randomly insert four genes (Oct4, Sox2, c-Myc and Klf4) into the cells’ DNA. The IPS cells also were modified to switch on these four genes when a drug trigger, doxycycline, is added to the cells.

Wernig and Lengner then took cells from each IPS mouse and introduced the doxycycline trigger, thereby changing the adult mouse cells into IPS cells.

While earlier reprogramming experiments have typically induced pluripotency in adult skin cells, Wernig and Lengner were able to employ this novel method to successfully reprogram multiple cell and tissue types, including cells of the intestine, brain, muscle, kidney, adrenal gland, and bone marrow. Importantly, the technique allows researchers to create large numbers of genetically identical IPS cells, because all cells in the mouse contain the same number of viral integrations in the same location within the genome. With previous approaches, each reprogrammed cell differed because the viruses used to insert the reprogramming genes could integrate anywhere in the cell’s DNA with varying frequency.

Wernig and Lengner’s method also increases the reprogramming efficiency from one in a thousand cells to one in twenty.

The large numbers of IPS cells that can be created by this method can aid experiments requiring millions of identical cells for reprogramming, such as large-scale chemical library screening assays.

“In experiments, the technique will eliminate many of the reprogramming process’s unpredictable variables and simplify enormously the research on the reprogramming mechanism and the screening for virus replacements,” says Jaenisch, who is also a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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The research was supported by the Human Frontiers Science Organization Program, the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award, and the National Institutes of Health.

Nicole Giese

Rudolf Jaenisch’s primary affiliation is with Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, where his laboratory is located and all his research is conducted. He is also a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Full citation:


Nature Biotechnology (online), July 1, 2008


A novel drug-inducible transgenic system for direct reprogramming of multiple somatic cell types


Marius Wernig (1), Christopher J Lengner (1), Jacob Hanna (1), Michael Lodato (1,2), Eveline Steine (1), Ruth Foreman (1,2), Judith Staerk (1), Styliani Markoulaki (1), and Rudolf Jaenisch (1,2).

1. Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, 9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA

2. Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 31 Ames Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA

Source: Cristin Carr

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

New Interventional Radiology Treatment Shows Hope For People With Complications From Bone Marrow, Stem Cell Transplants

The standard treatment
to treat graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) after bone marrow or cord blood
transplant is intravenous (IV) steroids that alter the immune response;
however, it is not always effective and failure results in very high
mortality. In a study released, 15 patients who failed standard
treatment were given a high dose of steroids directly to the affected
organ. By delivering the steroids via catheter to the arteries that are
supplying the organs affected by GVHD, a much higher, more effective dose
can be given because the rest of the body is spared from the steroid’s side
effects.

“Overall, fewer than 30 percent of patients with steroid-resistant GVHD
respond completely or partially to the standard IV treatment, and their
chance of living one year is 15 percent or less. This interventional
radiology treatment can be life-saving for these people,” said Joshua L.
Weintraub, M.D., chief of the Division of Vascular and Interventional
Radiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

According to Weintraub, there were no immediate drug or
procedure-related complications, and the treatment appears to be safe and
effective in combating GVHD — with about 40 percent of the patients
showing complete response to the intra-arterial treatment at less than a
year follow-up. The study was presented during the Society of
Interventional Radiology’s 33rd Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington,
D.C.

GVHD is a common complication of an allogeneic bone marrow transplant
(one using blood-forming cells donated by a family member or unrelated
donor) or cord blood transplant. With GVHD, the immune cells from the
donated marrow or cord blood (the graft) attack the body of the transplant
patient (the host). GVHD, which can be mild to life-threatening, can affect
many different parts of the body, particularly the skin, liver and
intestines. In this study the affected organs were the liver and small and
large bowels.

Studies from the 1990s show that steroid resistance is common — 80
percent of people fail to have a sustained, complete response rate or only
have a partial response, which means the immune cells are still attacking
the organ to varying degrees. “Until now, there has been no good therapy
for steroid-resistant patients with GVHD. This small study — the first of
its kind in the United States–shows a new, viable option; however, larger
studies with longer follow-up results are needed,” added Weintraub.

Abstract 187, “Intra-arterial Steroid Injection Therapy for Systemic
Steroid Resistant Graft-Versus-Host Disease,” can be found at
SIRmeeting.

About Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a common side effect of an
allogeneic bone marrow transplant (one using blood-forming cells donated by
a family member or unrelated donor) or cord blood transplant. The
differences between a donor’s marrow and recipient’s tissues often cause T
cells (a type of white blood cell) from the donor’s marrow to recognize the
recipient’s body tissues as foreign, according to the National Institutes
of Health. GVHD is the term used when a donor’s immune cells attacks the
recipient’s body — causing damage. Acute GVHD starts within three months
after transplant, while chronic GVHD begins more than three months after
transplant (and can last as long as three years). NIH notes that rates of
GVHD vary from 30-40 percent for related donors and recipients to 60-80
percent for unrelated donors and recipients. Following a bone marrow
transplant, the recipient is prescribed drugs that suppress the immune
system to help with reducing the chances or severity of GVHD.

Bone marrow transplants are usually reserved for individuals with
life-threatening diseases of the blood, bone marrow or certain types of
cancer.

About the Society of Interventional Radiology

Interventional radiologists are physicians who specialize in minimally
invasive, targeted treatments. They offer the most in-depth knowledge of
the least invasive treatments available coupled with diagnostic and
clinical experience across all specialties. They use X-ray, MRI and other
imaging to advance a catheter in the body, usually in an artery, to treat
at the source of the disease internally. As the inventors of angioplasty
and the catheter-delivered stent, which were first used in the legs to
treat peripheral arterial disease, interventional radiologists pioneered
minimally invasive modern medicine.

Today many conditions that once required surgery can be treated less
invasively by interventional radiologists. Interventional radiology
treatments offer less risk, less pain and less recovery time compared to
open surgery. Visit SIRweb.

Society of Interventional Radiology
sirweb

Vitamin E loss through smoking increases health risks

New studies in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have shown that vitamin E disappears more quickly
in smokers than in non-smokers – findings that may help explain how smoking can cause cancer.

The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was done in a controlled study of a group of smokers
and non-smokers, with diet and most other factors largely the same. By monitoring “labeled” vitamin E, it was found that the
blood plasma levels of this essential nutrient dropped 13 percent faster among smokers than among the non-smokers, depleting
it much more quickly. The study also demonstrated in humans an important interactive relationship between vitamins C and E,
showing for the first time how inadequate levels of vitamin C can cause further and faster depletion of vitamin E.

Together, these scientists say, the research is providing significant insight into how smoking might cause cancer, and how
the loss of protective antioxidant vitamins can play a role in this process.

“Cigarette smoke is an oxidant, creating free radicals that are associated with increased oxidative stress, cell mutations,
and can lead to such diseases as cancer, heart disease and diabetes,” said Maret Traber, a professor in OSU’s Linus Pauling
Institute and a national expert on vitamin E. “In lung tissue, vitamin E is one of the first lines of defense against the
free radicals generated by cigarette smoke.”

It has been known for some time that cigarette smoking reduced blood levels of vitamin C, Traber said, but the data were less
clear on vitamin E – it did not appear that there were significant differences in the blood plasma levels of vitamin E
between smokers and non-smokers.

But researchers now believe what is happening is that vitamin E is being depleted from tissue concentrations in order to keep
up its levels in the blood, leaving the tissues – including those of the lungs – particularly vulnerable to attack by toxins
and free radicals. The new studies support that thesis, say Traber and Richard Bruno, also an LPI researcher.

“The liver has a protein that helps to regulate blood concentrations of vitamin E, and while the blood plasma levels may be
the same, it appears the tissues are being depleted,” Bruno said. “Our research makes it clear that smokers must receive more
vitamin E than non-smokers in order to achieve the same overall levels in the body. If the blood levels are the same, and
vitamin E is leaving the blood faster, then the tissues must be depleted.”

In simple terms, this may mean that with smokers, their diet may be normal but they will have increased usage of vitamin E,
and they are at risk of losing its protective effects.

The interaction of vitamin C and E is another part of the puzzle, the scientists said.

“Both vitamins C and E are antioxidants with related roles, but vitamin C is water soluble and vitamin E is fat soluble,”
Traber said. “Vitamin C is found outside cell membranes while E is inside the membranes.”

In practice, the scientists believe that vitamin E often plays the first role in intervening against free radicals and
preventing membranes from becoming oxidized – but in the process, vitamin E itself can be made into a radical. If adequate
vitamin C is present, it can help the vitamin E return to non-radical form. But without adequate levels of vitamin C in the
body, vitamin E in tissues can quickly decline, Traber said.

“We’ve now shown this interaction among these two antioxidants in the human body for the first time, an important step
forward,” Traber said. “Smokers with the lowest vitamin C levels have the fastest disappearance of vitamin E. This is complex
biochemistry, but it’s part of our body’s natural defense mechanism against toxins.”

Plants, Traber said, will produce more vitamin E to protect themselves when they are under stress. Humans do not have the
ability to do that, and must obtain the nutrient from their diet. When certain agents, such as cigarette smoke, place the
body in a condition of constant oxidative stress, the stage can be set for disease, the researchers believe.

Nearly 50 million Americans smoke cigarettes. And some of the most common sources of vitamin E in the diet – oils, fats,
desserts – have been steadily reduced in recent years in the move towards low-fat diets. At least partly as a result, studies
show that only 8 percent of men and 2.4 percent of women in the U.S., regardless of smoking status, have adequate dietary
intake of vitamin E.

For protection, vitamin E must be present before free radical damage occurs, the OSU researchers say. It cannot be ingested
later and expected to repair all the damage.

“There has been practically a war going on in the science community for some time now about the value of vitamin E, but much
of what gets lost in the debate is the distinction between preventing a serious disease and being able to cure it,” Traber
said. Some recent studies, often done with sick or elderly people, were unable to demonstrate a health benefit from vitamin E
supplementation, Traber said. One recent analysis even concluded that vitamin E might be dangerous.

“Some people have the inaccurate notion that moderate supplementation with vitamin E will hurt you, and that simply is not
true,” Traber said. “What’s increasingly clear is that many people have health habits, such as smoking or poor diet, which
can leave them with inadequate levels of vitamin E. And vitamin E has clear value in helping to prevent serious degenerative
disease.”

Contact: Maret Traber
maret.traberoregonstate.edu
541-737-7977
Oregon State University
orst.edu

Honors Bestowed At IBMISPS Annual Awards Ceremony

Elsevier, the world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, has announced the recipients of this year’s International Brain Mapping and Intraoperative Surgical Planning Society awards. The six awards will be presented at the 6th Annual World Congress for Brain Mapping and Image Guided Therapy, August 26-29, 2009 at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, organized by Elsevier and the IBMISPS.

The following awards will be presented:

The Beacon Award for Courage and Dedication is awarded for courage and dedication in increasing awareness about neurological diseases. Presented this year to:
Mr. Bob Woodruff, ABC news reporter and co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, was seriously injured in an explosion from an improvised explosive device near Taji, Iraq, while covering the Iraq War. The Bob Woodruff Foundation provides resources and support to service members, veterans and their families to successfully reintegrate into their communities so they may thrive physically, psychologically, socially and economically.
Sergeant Major Colin R. Rich (retired) is a highly decorated and trained senior enlisted soldier (Special Forces/ Ranger) with multiple deployments to “hot” spots throughout his career. SGM Rich’s combat deployments include Panama, the Gulf War, three tours the Balkans, two tours in Afghanistan and one tour in Iraq. He was part of 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment serving in Afghanistan when he was shot in the head and severely injured.

Pioneer in Medicine is awarded for excellence in research, discovery, education and pioneering work in the field of medicine and image guided therapy. Presented this year to:
Peter M. Black, MD, PhD, Franc D. Ingraham Professor of neurosurgery, Founding Chair, Dept. of Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Franc D. Ingraham, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA, USA
Keith L. Black, MD, Chairman, Dept. of Neurosurgery, Director, Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgery Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, USA

Pioneer in Healthcare Policy is presented to lawmakers who have demonstrated visionary and cross-disciplinary approaches to introducing laws that have contributed to the advancement of science, technology, education, and medicine. Presented this year to:
Senator John Kerry, his support for medical research and his tireless efforts in healthcare reform

Pioneer in Technology is awarded to companies and their CEOs for excellence in technology transfer and development. Presented this year to:
Mr. William A. Hawkins, Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, USA

Young Investigator Award is presented to senior graduate students, post doctorate fellow or junior faculty for their pioneering work in the areas of basic neuroscience. Presented this year to:
Vicky Yamamoto for her work on stem cells

Student Research Award is presented to students for contributing to the establishment of the IBMISPS-UCLA student chapter and demonstrating leadership and deep interest in neuroscience research. Presented this year to:
Josh Neman and Amir Goodarzi for establishing the UCLA student chapter and creating a multi-disciplinary research forum for UCLA undergraduate, graduate and professional students

“On behalf of the IBMISPS members and board of directors I congratulate the award recipients: SGM Colin Rich and Mr. Bob Woodruff who are true national heroes and the honorable Senator Kerry, Drs. Peter Black and Keith Black as well as President Hawkins”, commented Babak Kateb, Founding Chairman of IBMISPS. Dr. David Moore, Deputy Director of Defense Veteran Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) said “DVBIC was pleased to participate in selecting Colin, who is one of the finest and highly decorated veterans of the US Armed forces”.

Mr. Bob Woodruff also congratulated all other award recipients and added “The Brain Mapping Foundation is doing incredible work and making great strides in the treatment and research of brain injuries. I am honored to be one of the recipients of the Beacon Award and commend and support the efforts of IBMISPS.”

IBMISPS’s annual world congress aims to break boundaries in science, technology, medicine and healthcare policy with presentations and exhibitions from pioneering leaders in a range of disciplines.

This world class event is administered by Elsevier. The detailed program of the Congress is available at ibmisps-worldcongress/programme.asp

Source:
Shira Tabachnikoff

Elsevier

CPAP Therapy Provides A Memory Boost For Adults With Sleep Apnea

Continuous positive airway pressure therapy helps restore memory consolidation in adults with obstructive sleep apnea, suggests a research abstract presented Wednesday, June 9, 2010, in San Antonio, Texas, at SLEEP 2010, the 24th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Results indicate that OSA patients being treated with CPAP therapy outperformed untreated OSA patients on an overnight picture memory consolidation task, suggesting that CPAP is effective at recouping memory abilities that are impaired by OSA. CPAP patients correctly identified more photographs after one night of sleep.

“The most surprising result of our study, thus far, is the noticeable improvement in memory that CPAP patients experience,” said lead author Ammar Tahir of the Memory Laboratory in the department of psychology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. “These results suggest the success of CPAP therapy in regenerating obstructive sleep apnea patients’ memory deficits.”

The researchers also made the intriguing discovery that OSA patients who were using CPAP therapy performed better on the memory task than a control group of people who did not have OSA. This important finding could provide direction for future research to study the effect of CPAP therapy on brain function and memory processes.

The study involved a preliminary sample of 135 adults between the ages of 33 and 65 years who were divided into three groups. The experimental group comprised 78 people who were diagnosed with OSA and had been using CPAP therapy for three or more weeks. The baseline group was composed of 50 people who were diagnosed with OSA but had not been using CPAP. The control group had 30 people who tested negative for OSA. Data from additional participants in this ongoing study were not yet available when the abstract was published.

All participants were shown 20 photographs the night before their sleep was monitored by in-lab polysomnography. The next morning they were presented with 20 pairs of photographs. Each pair contained one photo that had been presented the previous night and one similar but previously unseen image. Participants had to determine which photo in each pair was the one that they had already viewed.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that OSA is a sleep-related breathing disorder that involves a decrease or complete halt in airflow despite an ongoing effort to breathe. It occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway. This leads to partial reductions (hypopneas) and complete pauses (apneas) in breathing that can produce abrupt reductions in blood oxygen saturation and reduce blood flow to the brain. Most people with OSA snore loudly and frequently, and they often experience excessive daytime sleepiness.

The treatment of choice for OSA is CPAP therapy, which provides a steady stream of air through a mask that is worn during sleep. This airflow keeps the airway open to prevent pauses in breathing and restore normal oxygen levels. Help for OSA is available at more than 2,000 AASM-accredited sleep disorders centers across the U.S.

The SLEEP 2010 abstract supplement is available for download on the website of the journal SLEEP here.

A joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, the annual SLEEP meeting brings together an international body of more than 5,000 leading clinicians and scientists in the fields of sleep medicine and sleep research. At SLEEP 2010 more than 1,100 research abstract presentations will showcase new findings that contribute to the understanding of sleep and the effective diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and sleep apnea.

Abstract Title: Regeneration of overnight memory consolidation ability in CPAP patients
Abstract ID: 0101
Category: Learning, Memory and Cognition
Presentation Date: Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Presentation Type: Poster – #62
Presentation Time: 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Research Debunks Perception That State Or National Lines Offer Protection From Swine Flu

As panic surrounding the spread of swine flu heightens following the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global pandemic, many may be fooling themselves into believing that their state or national border can provide protection from the virus, based on new research from NYU Stern on people’s tendency to treat arbitrary political boundaries as safeguards.

In one of their studies, Stern Marketing Professor Justin Kruger, recent Stern Marketing PhD graduate Jeff Galak (now of Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business) and Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania, presented participants with a scenario in which a potentially hazardous industrial site or nuclear plant was being built near their home. They found that participants were less concerned about the potential health hazards if they were “protected” by a state or national border, even though that political border provided no physical barrier.

“This phenomenon of believing you’re safe from the H1N1 virus, or any other contagion, just because it isn’t in your state or country appears to be common and can be dangerous. So being aware of this human tendency is critical as public safety and health agencies, including the CDC, formulate their communications plans about potential hazards,” said Professor Kruger.

The findings are featured in their new paper entitled, “Not in My Backyard: The Psychological Significance of Arbitrary Borders.”

To read a summary of the report, visit here.

Source
NYU Stern

Aging With Grace: In-Home Assessments Lead To Better Care, Lower Health Costs

The March 2011 issue of the journal Heath Affairs highlights an evidence-based model of geriatric care management developed, implemented and tested by researchers and clinicians from Indiana University, the Regenstrief Institute and Wishard Health Services

Geriatric Resources for Assessment and Care of Elders (GRACE) optimizes the health and functional status of community dwelling lower income, older adults. GRACE is now in use by Wishard Health Services, the third-largest safety-net health organization in the United States; by HealthCare Partners Medical Group, a large managed care organization in Southern California and by a growing number of other organizations.

A previous clinical trial found that GRACE improves health and quality of life, decreases emergency department visits and lowers hospital admission rates in lower income older adults at high risk for hospital admission. The care delivery model focuses on the many issues faced by older adults — access to needed services, medications, mobility, depression, transportation, nutrition, as well as other health issues of aging.

“Healthcare reform is calling out for ways to improve health and lower costs. We have found a strategy to do that for a very vulnerable growing population in a way that shows cost savings over time and has the added benefit of providing services that these seniors desperately need but can’t get elsewhere,” said Steven R. Counsell, M.D., Mary Elizabeth Mitchell Professor of Geriatrics at the IU School of Medicine, an IU Center for Aging Research center scientist, a geriatrician at Wishard, and an affiliated scientist of the Regenstrief Institute, the principal investigator of the GRACE clinical trial. He is currently leading GRACE dissemination initiatives while working to influence health policy to improve integration of medical and social care for vulnerable elders.

The key to GRACE is two teams. The support team, consisting of a nurse practitioner and a social worker, meet with each patient in the home to conduct an initial comprehensive geriatric assessment from the medicine cabinet to the kitchen cabinet. Based on the support team’s findings, a larger interdisciplinary team (including a geriatrician, pharmacist, mental health social worker, and community-based services liaison) helps develop an individualized care plan.

Then the ball is back in the support team’s court. The nurse practitioner and the social worker meet with the patient’s primary care doctor to come up with a healthcare plan consistent with the patient’s goals, such as maintaining the ability to participate in social and religious activities. The support team then works with the patient to implement the plan which contains strategies for medical issues of concern as well as elements related to maintaining quality of life. With the assistance of an electronic medical record and web-based tracking system, the GRACE support team provides ongoing comprehensive care management.

Because it improves health and quality of life, GRACE is cost effective. By the second year GRACE even saves money for the sickest (those with three to four chronic diseases). Results of the GRACE trial were published in the Dec. 12, 2007, issue of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA). The cost analysis of the GRACE model was published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“The GRACE model improves health and reduces healthcare costs by lowering hospitalization rates in high risk seniors. The GRACE intervention can be financed by a health plan under managed care Medicare using the savings from fewer hospitalizations to offset GRACE program expenses. Most seniors, however, are not enrolled in managed care Medicare plans, and most services provided by the GRACE program are not currently reimbursed by traditional fee-for-service Medicare. Thus, payment reform is needed for broad dissemination of the GRACE model to benefit seniors under traditional Medicare. We are pleased that the newly created U.S. government Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is looking at GRACE and other novel ways of delivering medical care and paying healthcare providers that can improve health and also save money for Medicare and Medicaid,” said Dr. Counsell.

Development of GRACE was funded by the National Institute on Aging, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and Wishard Health Services. Dissemination of GRACE to Healthcare Partners Medical Group was supported by a grant from The SCAN Foundation, based in Long Beach, California. The SCAN Foundation is dedicated to creating a society in which seniors receive medical treatment and human services that are integrated in the setting most appropriate to their needs.

The Indiana University School of Medicine, the Regenstrief Institute and Wishard Health Services are located on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

Source:

IU School of Medicine