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  • June 6, 2013

    Huntington's Brain Cells Regenerated, in Mice

    Huntington's disease, like other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, is characterized by the loss of a particular type of brain cell. This cell type has been regenerated in a mouse model of the disease, in a study led by University of Rochester Medical Center scientists.

    Mice whose received this brain regeneration treatment lived far longer than untreated mice. The study was published online Thursday in Cell Stem Cell.

    We believe that our data suggest the feasibility of this process as a viable therapeutic strategy for Huntington's disease, said senior study author Steve Goldman, co-director of Rochester's Center for Translational Neuromedicine, in a press release.

  • June 3, 2013

    Researchers Identify Genetic Signature of Deadly Brain Cancer

    A multi-institutional team of researchers have pinpointed the genetic traits of the cells that give rise to gliomas – the most common form of malignant brain cancer. The findings, which appear in the journal Cell Reports, provide scientists with rich new potential set of targets to treat the disease.

    This study identifies a core set of genes and pathways that are dysregulated during both the early and late stages of tumor progression,” said University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., the senior author of the study and co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine. “By virtue of their marked difference from normal cells, these genes appear to comprise a promising set of targets for therapeutic intervention.

  • March 7, 2013

    NPR Features Current Nedergaard-Goldman Publication; Glial Research

    A human glial cell (green) among normal mouse glial cells (red). The human cell is larger, sends out more fibers and has more connections than do mouse cells. Mice with this type of human cell implanted in their brains perform better on learning and memory tests than do typical mice.

    For more than a century, neurons have been the superstars of the brain. Their less glamorous partners, glial cells, can't send electric signals, and so they've been mostly ignored. Now scientists have injected some human glial cells into the brains of newborn mice. When the mice grew up, they were faster learners. The study, published Thursday in Cell Stem Cell by Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc. and Dr. Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., not only introduces a new tool to study the mechanisms of the human brain, it supports the hypothesis that glial cells - and not just neurons - play an important role in learning.

    Today, glial research and Dr. Goldman were featured on National Public Radio (NPR) speaking about the glial research that is outlined in this current publication. I can't tell the differences between a neuron from a bird or a mouse or a primate or a human, says Goldman, glial cells are easy to tell apart. Human glial cells - human astrocytes - are much larger than those of lower species. They have more fibers and they send those fibers out over greater distances.

    In collaboration with the Nedergaard Lab, newborn mice had some human glial cells injected into their brains. The mice grew up, and so did the human glial cells. The cells spread through the mouse brain, integrating perfectly with mouse neurons and, in some areas, outnumbering their mouse counterparts. All the while Goldman says the glial cells maintained their human characteristics.

  • March 7, 2013

    Support Cells Found in Human Brain Make Mice Smarter

    Glial cells – a family of cells found in the human central nervous system and, until recently, considered mere housekeepers – now appear to be essential to the unique complexity of the human brain. Scientists reached this conclusion after demonstrating that when transplanted into mice, these human cells could influence communication within the brain, allowing the animals to learn more rapidly.

    The study, out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, suggests that the evolution of a subset of glia called astrocytes – which are larger and more complex in humans than other species – may have been one of the key events that led to the higher cognitive functions that distinguish us from other species.

    The role of the astrocyte is to provide the perfect environment for neural transmission, said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-senior author of the study and director, along with Dr. Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., of the URMC Center for Translational Neuromedicine. As the same time, we've observed that as these cells have evolved in complexity, size, and diversity – as they have in humans – brain function becomes more and more complex.

  • February 7, 2013

    Cells Forged from Human Skin Show Promise in Treating MS, Myelin Disorders

    A study out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell shows that human brain cells created by reprogramming skin cells have the potential to be highly effective in treating myelin disorders, a family of diseases that includes multiple sclerosis and rare childhood disorders called pediatric leukodystrophies.

    The study is the first successful attempt to employ human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) to produce a population of cells that are critical to neural signaling in the brain. In this instance, the researchers utilized cells crafted from human skin and transplanted them into animal models of myelin disease.

    “This study strongly supports the utility of hiPSCs as a feasible and effective source of cells to treat myelin disorders,” said University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) neurologist Steven Goldman, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study. “In fact, it appears that cells derived from this source are at least as effective as those created using embryonic or tissue-specific stem cells.”