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!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy