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Neuroscientists question effectiveness of using electrical currents to improve memory

first_img Source:https://www.kingston.ac.uk/news/article/2177/28-mar-2019-do-electrodes-make-you-smarter-kingston-university-neuroscientist-casts-doubt-on-benefit-of-using-electric/ Image credit: www.modup.net/Dr Giulia Galli from the University’s Faculty of Business and Social Sciences was part of an international research team that investigated transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS). The technique involves delivering a weak electrical current to specific parts of the brain using electrodes attached to the head. Related StoriesStudy offers clues about how to prevent brain inflammation in Alzheimer’sNeural pathways explain the relationship between imagination and willingness to helpResearch team to create new technology for tackling concussionThe team evaluated the effects of tDCS across a range of variables, including length of administration, nature of the memory encoding task and age of the participants. A significant enhancement of memory performance was only found when tDCS was delivered in more difficult memory tasks. The longer the technique was applied, the more effective it was and this improvement was evident in adults of all ages.The team’s findings provided insight for the scientific community into how this technique can be used effectively and would help to set out the optimal conditions for the use of tCDS for neuro-rehabilitation of patients with memory decline, Dr Galli said.Dr Giulia Galli said: Working with colleagues from the universities of Essex, Madrid and Moscow, Dr Galli analyzed findings from all existing studies examining the effectiveness of the technique on long term memory. In the past five years concerns had been raised about the low number of participants involved in studies of tCDS, the design of experiments and publication bias – with positive results seemingly more frequently published, Dr Galli explained. TCDS has real potential to improve mental functions relating to memory, but only works under certain circumstances. If we want it to be effective we need to get those conditions right, otherwise we’re missing opportunities to support patients. This research takes us a step closer to identifying those specifics.” The results of the study were published in neuroscience journal Brain Stimulation. Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Apr 1 2019The effectiveness of applying electrical currents to the brain to improve memory and enhance cognitive ability – often used to treat Alzheimer’s patients and children with developmental disorders – has been thrown into question by neuroscientists at Kingston University in London. During the past 15 years, increasing numbers of academics have started to use tDCS with a great deal of enthusiasm, claiming it can improve a range of neurological functions – including enhancing memory in Alzheimer’s patients and improving dyscalculia in children with developmental disorders. The technique is relatively cheap and easy to use compared to other brain stimulation techniques – specially-designed caps are even available for people to try it at home – and in almost every field of mental processes research contends that it works. Yet there are now real question marks over the evidence for those claims.”Dr Giulia Galli, University’s Faculty of Business and Social Sciences The claim for many years has been that this technique is like a miracle cure. Yet, in examining all 28 published studies looking at the impact of tCDS on long term memory, we found no statistically significant effect when all the data was taken together. We’re not saying the technique is not effective in all cases, but we need to know under what specific circumstances it does have an impact.”Dr Giulia Gallilast_img read more

Microglia play vital role in regulating neuroinflammation research shows

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Apr 23 2019A research team at Massachusetts Eye and Ear has shown that microglia, the primary immune cells of the central nervous system–including the retina of the eye–serve as “gatekeepers,” or biosensors and facilitators, of neuroinflammation in a preclinical model of autoimmune uveitis. Uveitis is one of the leading causes of blindness, accounting for approximately 10% of significant visual impairment worldwide.In a report published online today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the researchers describe, for the first time, a role for microglia in directing the initiation of autoimmune uveitis by orchestrating the inflammatory response within the retina. In reaction to disease induction, microglia closely associate with the retinal vasculature and facilitate inflammatory immune cell entry past the blood-brain, or ocular, barrier into the retina. When the researchers depleted microglia in this model, they observed that the disease was completely blocked.”Normally, the blood-brain barrier serves as an impediment and prevents the immune response from going into tissues of the central nervous system, including the retina. However, our results provide clear evidence, that in the context of uveitis, microglia can facilitate entry of inflammatory immune cells into the retina, and enable the host immune responses to attack cells that are not normally recognized by the immune system,” said senior author Kip M. Connor, PhD, vision researcher at Mass. Eye and Ear and Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. “Until now, the role of microglia in retinal disease has not been fully understood, but our research shows–for the first time–that these cells serve as gatekeepers from the immune system to the central nervous system. This gateway not only has implications for treating uveitis, but may provide future avenues for drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier for other diseases of the central nervous system.”Despite significant advances in research and therapeutics, the prevalence of uveitis has not been reduced in the past 30 years. Uveitis is characterized as inflammation of the retina as well as the uveal tissues, optic nerve and vitreous, wherein a large influx of immune cells into the eye coincides with elevated inflammatory destruction. Uveitis caused by an autoimmune disease occurs in a variety of diseases including Bechet’s disease, sarcoidosis, and Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada disease. Patients with uveitis often suffer serious visual loss after persistent inflammation due to immune-mediated damage to the neuronal cells of the retina.Related StoriesPatientSource’s e-prescribing technology reduces prescription errors at RHNWhat happens when you eliminate sugar and adopt the keto diet?Botulinum toxin may offer relief from chronic pelvic pain in women with endometriosisSince microglia have multiple phenotypes and/or different stages of activation that can be associated with either harmful or beneficial effects in disease pathogenesis, their role and function in disease progression is not well defined. Researchers across all fields of medicine have recently begun to elucidate the function of microglial cells in various conditions. For example, in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases of the brain, microglia are thought to be harmful. In ophthalmology, it is known that microglial cells are activated in response to a number of developmental and disease indications and their roles in disease are thought to be context-dependent, where they can be either beneficial or harmful.”These findings provide the first insights into how microglia respond and function during a systemic autoimmune disease targeting the eye,” said lead author Yoko Okunuki, MD, PhD, an investigator in Dr. Connor’s laboratory and Instructor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School.”This novel work by Dr. Connor and colleagues identifies that microglia regulate entry through the blood-retinal barrier, and it is our hope that these finding can be harnessed for future targeted therapies for uveitis,” says Joan W. Miller, MD, the David Glendenning Cogan Professor and Chair of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Ophthalmology at Mass. Eye and Ear and Massachusetts General Hospital, and Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It is becoming increasingly clear that microglia are involved in a number of retinal disorders as well as neuroinflammatory disorders of the central nervous system.Source: https://www.masseyeandear.org/news/press-releases/2019/04/microglia-shown-to-regulate-neuroinflammationlast_img read more

Scientists discover biological barrier that keeps cancer at bay

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)May 6 2019Activins are proteins involved in a number of important biological functions, including the regulation of the menstrual cycle, cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, metabolism, homeostasis, immune response, wound repair, and endocrine function.Activin B is one of the activin proteins. It binds and activates a receptor called ALK7 – a member of the tumor growth factor beta (TGFβ) receptors superfamily. When activated, ALK7 triggers a domino effect of molecular and biochemical reactions (a “signaling pathway”) that result in various changes across the cell.Now, a team of researchers spearheaded by the lab of Douglas Hanahan at EPFL have found that activin B and ALK7 expressed by cancer cells can form a “barrier” that not only prevents them from forming new tumors, but also from metastasizing. The project was led by Iacovos P. Michael, a former postdoc in Hanahan’s lab.Related StoriesStudy reveals link between inflammatory diet and colorectal cancer riskBacteria in the birth canal linked to lower risk of ovarian cancerNew study to ease plight of patients with advanced cancerThe researchers studied the ALK7 signaling pathway in mice with either pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors or breast cancer. They found that when the receptor is activated by activin B, cancer cells died via a process called apoptosis. On the contrary, blocking ALK7 activation allowed cancer cells to evade death and successfully metastasize to various organs, such as the liver, lungs and brain. And the way by which cancer cells evaded the activin B/ALK7 “barrier” was by either downregulating activin B and/or downregulating ALK7.”This study enforces the notion that apoptosis is an important barrier of tumorigenesis, and that its evasion by cancer cells is a key hallmark capability of cancer cells during malignancy and metastasis,” says Hanahan.Furthermore, this study also revealed that the presence of ALK7 correlated with prolonged relapse-free survival (longer time for reappearance) of patients with various cancers, including breast cancer. Notably, comparatively higher levels of ALK7 expression were also associated with a longer period before metastasis became apparent in breast-cancer patients.This study introduces a heretofore unappreciated role of a protective activin B/ALK7 “barrier”, which triggers apoptosis in ALK7-expressing cells that are therefore not ”authorized” to proliferate in a particular tissue microenvironment bathed in its ligand.”Elucidating how cancer cells manage to overcome nature’s various ‘safety checkpoints’ to prevent malignancy is an important step towards understanding tumor biology and disease pathogenesis,” says Iacovos Michael. Source:https://actu.epfl.ch/news/a-barrier-that-keeps-cancer-at-bay/last_img read more

Aparna Construction announces new ultra luxury residential project in Hyderabad

first_imgHyderabad COMMENTS February 08, 2019 SHARE SHARE EMAIL Published on Plans to take up 12 mn sq.ft of projects this year new project SHARE real estate COMMENT Aparna Construction and Estates has announced a new ultra luxury Platinum rated high rise apartment project close to the IT hub of Hyderabad that entails an outlay of Rs 600 crore.The Hyderabad-based Aparna Group is working on several new major projects – residential, retail including malls and commercial – in Hyderabad, Amaravati and Bengaluru. While it has a turnover of Rs 2000 crore, the construction division accounts for Rs 1100 crore and rest Rs 900 comes from the Aparna Enterprises .C Rakesh Reddy, Director, Aparna Construction and Estates, said “the company has thus far completed about 28 million sq.ft of residential apartments and villas across 38 projects over past 22 years and plans to take up another 12 million sq.ft during the year, including this luxury project named Aparna One close to the IT hub .”DS Prasad, Director of Aparna Constructions, said “Hyderabad is still the cheapest market among its comparable cities like Pune, Bengaluru and Chennai .”Mentioning about a detailed survey which resulted in taking up this ultra luxury project, Prasad said “about 20 per cent of the apartments and villas sold come under the luxury category and within this a fourth is accounted by ultra luxury. We are seeking to address that latent market.”Spread over 9.75 acres, Aparna One will have 464 premium units across 6 blocks. The sizes for the 3 and 4 BHK apartments range from 2876 sq.ft to 5216 sq.ft. Apart from being spacious, they would mark signature living. These apartments are priced at Rs 3-6 crore. Being platinum rated, the apartments consume 28 per cent less electricity, ensure 51 per cent water saving. For Aparna, over the years, about 60-65 per cent of buyers have been through referrals and a big chunk of buyers are NRIs, particularly from the US.Reddy said “Seventy per cent of commercial space in the city coming up has been pre-booked and this augurs well for growth of the residential projects. Apart from residential, we are also taking up about 3-3.5 million sq.ft of commercial projects along with couple of malls.” Asked about Aparna Constructions plans to tap the capital market with an IPO, Reddy said “No, at least not in the near future.”last_img read more