This week, researchers report evidence that a statin drug already shown to be safe for use in humans has proven effective at correcting cell-cell communication and curing learning disfunction in a mouse model of Neurofibromatosis type I, a human genetic disorder that causes learning disabilities in millions of people worldwide.
Learning disabilities affect 5% of the world’s population, have a profound impact on countless lives, and cost billions of dollars, but there is little or nothing that we are currently able do to prevent or treat this enormous problem. At the heart of this challenge is our lack of understanding of the mechanisms underlying this complex class of brain problems. In an effort to understand these disorders and develop treatments, Dr. Alcino Silva and colleagues at UCLA have focused research on the study of the most common genetic cause for learning disabilities: Neurofibromatosis type I (NF1). The idea behind the NF1 research is that if we understand this particular learning disability, which is caused by a single defective gene, and manage to develop effective and sustainable treatments, we may be able to use the information learned to tackle this general class of learning and memory problems.
Because of the difficulties and limitations of studying mechanisms of memory in human patients, the researchers decided to study NF1 in mice. The scientists had previously shown that mice with the mutations that cause NF1 in human patients possess many of the features of this complex disorder, including deficits in spatial learning, attention, and motor coordination. Studies of these mutant mice showed that the learning deficits are caused by the overactivity of a molecule called Ras, causing an imbalance between signals that activate brain cells and those that inhibit them, and leading to deficits in cell-cell communication needed for learning.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
Single-stranded DNA and RNA origami go live
15.12.2017 | Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard
New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists
15.12.2017 | Louisiana State University
DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.
Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
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15.12.2017 | Life Sciences