According to Professor Matti Haltia, a new form of the hereditary disorder Alzheimer’s disease, which paralyses the lower extremities of its victims, has been discovered in Finland. This disease has since also been discovered in many other countries. The disorder is caused by a new type of genetic defect, which leads to the accumulation of cotton-wool plaque in the cerebral cortex. These cotton-wool plaques lack the traditional Alzheimer plaques, i.e. an amyloid core. This discovery is altering the understanding of how Alzheimer’s disease is formed. Haltia’s research was part of the Academy of Finland’s Research Programme on Ageing. Genetic research was conducted in co-operation with American professor John Hardy, who was the first to discover the genetic defect that causes Alzheimer’s disease in 1991.
Professor Haltia and his research group have shown that Alzheimer’s disease is even more common among people over 85 years of age than previously thought. Furthermore, the research found that a certain form of the LPL protein protects against cerebral infarction. This represents the first known common hereditary factor related to cerebral infarction.
Haltia’s group research has also proven that the ’Pohjoinen’ epilepsy discovered in the Kainuu region of Finland is a new NCL disease. The genetic defect that causes the disease was identified by the research group headed by Professor Anna-Elina Lehesjoki. Even in Finland, NCL diseases are some of the most common hereditary brain disorders among children. They lead to the accumulation of lipofuscin (ageing pigment) type material in nerve cells and the destruction of nerve cells. In this sense they may serve as models of ageing.
Anita Westerback | alfa
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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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