Elena Rugarli and colleagues from the National Neurological Institute in Milan have used gene therapy to save sensory and skeletal muscle nerve fibers from degeneration in mice with hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). This strategy, reported online on December 15 in advance of print publication in the January 2006 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, holds promise for many other disorders characterized by nerve degeneration due to loss of function of a known gene.
Hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), a neurodegenerative disorder caused by progressive loss of sensory and skeletal muscle nerve fibers (axons), is characterized by weakness, spasticity, and impaired function of the lower limbs. The disorder is often due to mutations in the gene encoding the paraplegin protein. HSP sufferers are ultimately confined to a wheelchair, and currently there is no cure for the disease. In the current study, Rugarli and colleagues have shown that a one-time delivery of normal paraplegin by a viral vector to the spinal motor neurons of mice with HSP, before the onset of symptoms, was able to save axons from degeneration for up to 10 months.
Delivery of this mitochondrial energy-dependent protease improved motor function in the mice and these data show that delivery of an intracellular protein to spinal motor neurons by gene transfer may be useful not only for the treatment of HSP patients but also for those individuals with other forms of peripheral nerve damage of known genetic origin.
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet
22.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy