Transformative awards for Mocarski's malleable cells, lung fibrosis

The National Institutes of Health has announced a five-year, $1.9 million Transformative Research Award to Emory virologist Edward Mocarski, PhD for his work on how the mechanisms of programmed cell death can be subverted. Mocarski is Robert W. Woodruff professor of microbiology and immunology at Emory University School of Medicine and Emory Vaccine Center. His research, which originated in probing how cells commit suicide when taken over by viruses, could lead to advances in regenerative medicine and organ transplant. The grant, funded through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is one of nine “high-risk-, high-reward” Transformative Research Awards (13 recipients) announced by the NIH on October 6. In the same group this year, Thomas Barker in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University received a Transformative Research Award for his research on mechanosensors + pulmonary fibrosis. The Transformative Research Award program supports “exceptionally innovative, unconventional, paradigm-shifting research projects that are inherently risky and untested.” Emory has achieved only one other TRA since the program was established in 2009: Shuming Nie's project on imaging to guide cancer surgery. “This Transformative award was made possible because of the creative and engaged graduate students and postdoctoral fellows I have had working with me at Emory,” Mocarski says. In 2011, Mocarski, working with former graduate student William Kaiser and Emory geneticist Tamara Caspary showed that two complementary forms of programmed cell death, necrosis and apoptosis, can be genetically excised from mice, leaving a viable animal with a functioning immune system. These findings are yielding additional fruit. Mocarski’s research indicates that cells from these genetically altered mice are unexpectedly malleable, in that they are easier to reprogram into induced pluripotent stem cells. Once reprogrammed, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) can be directed to become cells of almost any tissue, making them promising potential tools for the treatment of many diseases. The genetically altered mice are also less susceptible to deadly inflammation and more readily accept bone marrow transplants. The Transformative project’s aims are to exploit these findings and test the ability of drugs that interfere with programmed cell death to facilitate tissue regeneration, iPS cell reprogramming and transplant.      

Cancer metastasis: isolating invasive cells with a color change

At Winship Cancer Institute, Adam Marcus and Jessica Konen have developed a tool for probing how invasive cells are different, which could lead to new ways to fight cancer metastasis. In the video, check out how they track the behavior of apparently devious "leader cells".

Tools for illuminating brain function make their own light

Hey optogenetics fans, cut (or temporarily put aside) the fiber optic cable. Flexible tools allow the choice between activation by light or an external chemical.

deep brain stimulation

The buzz of consciousness and how seizures disrupt it

These days, it sounds a bit old-fashioned to ask the question: “Where is consciousness located in the brain?” The prevailing thinking is that consciousness lives in the network, rather than in one particular place. Still, neuroscientists sometimes get an intriguing glimpse of a critical link in the network.

A recent paper in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior describes an epilepsy patient who had electrodes implanted within her brain at Emory University Hospital, because neurologists wanted to understand where her seizures were coming from and plan possible surgery. Medication had not controlled her seizures and previous surgery elsewhere had not either.


MRI showing electrode placement. Yellow outline indicates the location of the caudate and thalamus. Image from Leeman-Markowsi et al, Epilepsy & Behavior (2015).

During intracranial EEG monitoring, implanted electrodes detected a pattern of signals coming from one part of the thalamus, a central region of the brain. The pattern was present when the patient was conscious, and then stopped as soon as seizure activity made her lose awareness.

The pattern of signals had a characteristic frequency – around 35 times per second – so it helps to think of the signal as an auditory tone. Lead author Beth Leeman-Markowski, director of EUH’s Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at the time when the patient was evaluated, describes the signal as a “buzz.”

“That buzz has something to do with maintenance of consciousness,” she says. Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Neuro Leave a comment

DBS for drug-resistant epilepsy

Space considerations in print forced us to slim down the feature on deep brain stimulation for drug resistant epilepsy, which appears in the Spring 2015 issue of Emory Medicine. While I encourage you to please read our story profiling playwright Paula Moreland, here are some take-away points:

*Surgery is a viable option for many patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, but not all of them, because the regions of the brain where the seizures start can have important functions. (Look for an upcoming post describing a patient I met for whom the surgical option was helpful.)

*Deep brain stimulation can reduce seizure frequency and improve quality of life for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy.

*In the large clinical trials on deep brain stimulation for epilepsy that have been run so far (SANTE and RNS), most participants do not see their seizures eliminated. Ms. Moreland is an exception.  Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Neuro Leave a comment

Recording seizures from within the brain

To go along with the (new) Spring 2015 Emory Medicine magazine set of features on deep brain stimulation for depression, movement disorders and epilepsy, here is a fascinating 2013 case report from Emory neurosurgeon Robert Gross and colleagues. The first author is electrical engineer Otis Smart.

It’s an example of the kinds of insights that can be obtained from implantable electrical stimulation devices, which can record signals from seizures inside the brain over long periods of time (more than a year).

As the authors write, “the technology can record brain activity while the patient is in a more naturalistic environment than a hospital, becoming an invasive ambulatory EEG.” Read more

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Neuro 1 Comment

Brain enhancement: can and should we do it?

The Emory Center for Ethics and Emory’s Neuroscience Graduate Program recently co-hosted a symposium discussing the ethics of brain-enhancing technologies, both electronic and pharmacological.

Georgia Tech biomedical engineer Steve Potter explained his work harnessing the behavior of neurons grown on a grid of electrodes. The neurons, isolated from rats, produce bursts of electrical signals in various patterns, which can be “tuned” by the inputs they receive.

“The cells want to form circuits and wire themselves up,” he said.

As for future opportunities, he cited the technique of deep brain stimulation as well as clinical trials in progress, including one testing technology developed by the company Neuropace that monitors the brain’s electrical activity for the purpose of suppressing epileptic seizures. Similar technology is being developed to help control prosthetic limbs and could also promote recovery from brain injury or stroke, he said. Eventually, electrical stimulation that is not modulated according to feedback from the brain will be seen as an overly blunt instrument, even “barbaric,” he said.

Mike Kuhar, a neuroscientist at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, introduced the topic of cognitive enhancers or “smart drugs.” He described one particular class of proposed cognitive enhancers, called ampakines, which appear to improve functioning on certain tasks without stimulating signals throughout the brain. Kuhar questioned whether “smart drugs” pose unique challenges, compared to other types of drugs. From a pharmacology perspective, he said there is less distinction between therapy and enhancement, compared to a perspective imposed by regulators or insurance companies. He described three basic concerns: safety (avoiding toxicity or unacceptable side effects), freedom (lack of coercion from governments or employers) and fairness.

“Every drug has side effects,” he said. “There has to be a balance between the benefits versus the risks, and regulation plays an important role in that.”

He identified antidepressants and treatments for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder or the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease as already raising similar issues. The FDA has designated mild cognitive impairment associated with aging as an open area for pharmaceutical development, he noted.

James Hughes, a sociologist from Trinity College and executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, welcomed new technologies that he said could not only treat disease, but also enhance human capabilities and address social challenges such as criminal rehabilitation. However, he did identify potential “Ulysses problems”, where users of new technologies would need to exercise control and judgment.

In contrast, historian and Judaic scholar Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, from Arizona State University, decried an “overly mechanistic and not culturally-based understanding of what it means to be human.” She described transhumanism as a utopian extension of 19th century utilitarianism as expounded by thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham.

“Is the brain simply a computational machine?” she asked.

The use of military metaphors – such as “the war on cancer” – in the context of mental illness creates the false impression that everything is correctable or even perfectable, she said.

Emory neuroscience program director Yoland Smith said he wants ethics to become a strong component of Emory’s neuroscience program, with similar discussions and debates to come in future years.

Posted on by Quinn Eastman in Neuro Leave a comment
  • Feedback

    Let us know what you think.

    You can contact us via the email button below or you can use our online feedback form You can also leave comments directly on individual posts.

buy windows 8 personalization enabler key cheap,buy windows 8 crack key key online,Windows 8 Activator,cheap Windows 7 Ultimate Activation Key buy Windows 8.1 Product Key Finder 2014 key online,buy windows 8 build 9200 activator free download key online,buy Windows 8 Activator key cheap,buy How to Activate Windows 8 For Free key cheap,cheap Windows 8 Professional Activation Key download buy Keyword key online,buy linux server software key cheap,buy windows crack key online,Windows Server 2012 Standard Activation Key buy windows office 2013 professional cheap,cheap ms office 365,ms office 2010 cheap download,download visio,buy office 2013 package cheap,buy office 2013 package cheap buy download office 2013 with product key cheap,2013 office product key,office 2013 for free download cheap download,ms office pro cheap download,microsoftproject free office trial,buy office 2010 access cheap,office 2013 online download cheap download,ms office professional Windows 8 Professional,buy Windows 7 key cheap,Windows 8 Enterprise Activation Key,buy small business server key cheap,cheap windows 8.1 buy Windows 8.1 loader 2013 key cheap,buy Windows 8.1 Permanent Activator free 2013 key cheap,buy Activate Windows 8 PRO and Enterprise Build 9200 key online,cheap Windows 7 Home Basic Activation Key download,cheap Windows 7 Professional SP1 Activation Key download buy windows server upgrade key cheap,buy windows 8 pro build 9200 product key key cheap,buy Download Kms Activator Windows 8 Build 8400 key online,buy windows 8 personalization working key cheap buy office 2010 home & business cheap,office software free cheap download,download of office 2013,is visio part of office 2013,buy windows office 2007 cheap buy office 365 office 2013 cheap,office download 2010,buy windows office professional cheap,office standard 2010,buy office professional plus 2013 cheap office pro 2013 plus cheap download,buy free download office word cheap,buy office home 2013 cheap,cheap latest ms office 2013 free download cheap free download office word 2013,where can i download office 2013,buy office 2013 trial version free download cheap,cheap outlook 2007 office pro 2013 plus cheap download,buy free download office word cheap,buy office home 2013 cheap,cheap latest ms office 2013 free download buy windows server learning key online,upgrade windows server,buy windows server 2008 requirements key online,data center windows 8 pro crack,cheap windows 8 pro download,Windows 7 activator free Download,buy windows 7 activation crack key cheap,buy windows 2003 servers key online,buy windows 2003 servers key online buy windows server 2008 enterprise key online,cheap Windows 7 Ultimate Activation Key download,windows business server,buy Windows 7 Pro & Enterprise 32 bit and 64 bit activator key cheap,buy windows 10 free activator key cheap skype software free download for windows 7 full version,cheap windows 8.1 pro download,windows 2008 r2,Windows 8 Pro & Enterprise 32 bit and 64 bit Activator,windows 7 home buy windows 8 crack key online,cheap Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Activation Keywindows 7,Windows 8.1 Permanent Activator free 2013 buy windows 8 crack key online,cheap Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Activation Keywindows 7,Windows 8.1 Permanent Activator free 2013 buy new windows version key online,buy windows 7 loader free download key online,windows home server 2011 Windows 7 Enterprise SP1 Activation Key,buy windows 7 certification key cheap,buy windows 8 crack download free key online,buy windows 7 activation key free download key cheap,buy server operating systems key online Windows 8.1 Activator Loader,buy windows server services key online,buy windows 8 activator 2014 key cheap,buy win 7 activator 2014 key online