Two Emory graduate students, Anzar Abbas and Katie Strong, will be spending the summer testingÂ their communication skills as part of the AAAS Mass Media fellowship program. The program is supposed to promote science communication by giving young scientists a taste of what life is like at media organizations around the country. Both of Emory’s fellowsÂ have already gained some experience in this realm.
Abbas, a Neuroscience student who recently joined brainÂ imaging number cruncherÂ Shella Keilholz‘s lab, will be at Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is part of the group that recently revived the Science Writers at Emory publication In Scripto.
Strong, a Chemistry student working with Dennis Liotta on selective NMDA receptor drugs, will be at the Sacramento Bee. She has been quite prolific at the American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience and its Neuroethics Blog.
(Thanks to Ian Campbell, a previous AAAS Mass Media fellow from Emory who worked at the Oregonian, for notifying me on this!)
Drug discovery veteran Dennis Liotta and his team continue to look for ways to fight against HIV. Working with pharmaceutical industry colleagues, he and graduate student Anthony ProsserÂ have discovered compounds that are active against three different targets: immune cells’Â entry gates for the virus (CCR5 and CXCR4), and the replication enzyme reverse transcriptase. That’s like one arrow hitting three bulls eyes. AnÂ advantage for these compounds: it could be less likely for viral resistance to develop.
For more, please go toÂ the American Chemical Society — there will be a press conference from the ACS meeting in Denver on Monday, and live YouTube.
Neuroprotective drugs might seemÂ impractical or improbable right now, after twoÂ big clinical trials testing progesterone in traumatic brain injury didn’t work out. But oneÂ close observer of drug discovery isÂ predicting a “coming boom in brain medicines.” Maybe this research, which Emory scientists have been pursuing for a long time, will be part of it.
In the 1990s, neuroscientists identified a class of drugs that showed promise in the area of stroke. NMDA receptor antagonists could limit damage to the brain in animal models of stroke. But one problem complicated testing the drugs in a clinical setting: the side effects included disorientation and hallucinations.
Now researchers have found a potential path around this obstacle. The results were published in Neuron.
â€œWe have found neuroprotective compounds that can limit damage to the brain during ischemia associated with stroke and other brain injuries, but have minimal side effects,â€ says senior author Stephen Traynelis, PhD, professor of pharmacology at Emory University School of Medicine.
â€œThese compounds are most active when the pH is lowered by biochemical processes associated with injury of the surrounding tissue. This is a proof of concept study that shows this mechanism of action could potentially be exploited clinically in several conditions, such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and subarachnoid hemorrhage.â€ Read more