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Mouse Study: Deep Sleep Helps the Brain Wash Away Toxic Proteins

Friday, March 1, 2019

Deep sleep allows the brain to wash away waste and toxic proteins more efficiently, according to a new mouse study published in the journal Science Advances. The new findings shed light on previous evidence linking Alzheimer’s disease with aging and sleep deprivation.

“Sleep is critical to the function of the brain’s waste removal system and this study shows that the deeper the sleep, the better,” said Maiken Nedergaard, MD, DMSc, co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and lead author of the study.

“These findings also add to the increasingly clear evidence that quality of sleep or sleep deprivation can predict the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

The study suggests that the slow and steady brain and cardiopulmonary activity linked to deep non-REM sleep are optimal for the function of the glymphatic system, the brain’s waste removal system. The findings may also explain why some forms of anesthesia can result in cognitive dysfunction in older adults.

Read More: Mouse Study: Deep Sleep Helps the Brain Wash Away Toxic Proteins

Grant Marks Two Decades of NIH Support for Muscular Dystrophy Research

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Deposits of toxic RNA (red) are seen here inside muscle cell nuclei (blue) from an individual with myotonic dystrophy

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) has received $8 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support pioneering research on muscular dystrophy. The grant, which is a renewal of URMC’s Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center, will fund ongoing work to investigate the genetic mechanisms and progression of this complex multi-system disease, research that has led scientists to the threshold of potential new therapies for myotonic dystrophy.

“The mission of the URMC Wellstone Center is to promote research that leads to effective treatments for muscular dystrophy,” said Charles Thornton, M.D., a professor in the URMC Department of Neurology and director of the URMC Wellstone Center. “This new funding will enable us to continue a research program that has been forged from a true partnership between bench scientists, clinical researchers, and patients and their families.”

URMC is home to one of six NIH-designated Wellstone Centers in the nation. URMC was selected in the first cycle of funding when the program was launched 16 years ago and is the only Wellstone Center that has been continuously funded since the program’s inception. With the current award, URMC has received a total of $29.8 million in NIH funding to study the disease since 2003.

The URMC Wellstone Center focuses on myotonic dystrophy, a disease that can be lethal in infants and adults and is characterized by progressive disability. Researchers at URMC have been studying myotonic dystrophy for more than 30 years and their work has transformed our understanding of the biological mechanisms of the disease. The new funding will support a long-standing collaboration between researchers at the University of Rochester and RNA scientists at the University of Florida.

Approximately 40,000 Americans have myotonic dystrophy, which is one of the most common forms of muscular dystrophy. People with the disease have muscle weakness and prolonged muscle tensing (myotonia), which makes it difficult to relax muscles after use. Eventually many patients have difficulty walking, swallowing, and breathing.

Read More: Grant Marks Two Decades of NIH Support for Muscular Dystrophy Research

Possible Parkinson's 'Pandemic' Looms: Report

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

TUESDAY, Feb. 19, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- The number of people living with Parkinson's disease worldwide could double in the next two decades, experts project.

In a report warning of a possible Parkinson's "pandemic," researchers say the stage is set for cases to surge to 12 million or more by 2040.

What's to blame? In large part, trends that are generally positive: Older age is a major risk factor for Parkinson's, and with life expectancy rising worldwide, more people will develop the disease. At the same time, Parkinson's patients are surviving longer, which drives up the number of people living with the disease at any given time.

Then there's a less expected factor: Declining smoking rates. While the habit has many devastating effects, research suggests it protects against Parkinson's.

Those are obviously trends that no one wants to reverse, said report author Dr. Ray Dorsey.

There are, however, other ways to slow the projected rise in Parkinson's, said Dorsey, a professor of neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

Read More: Possible Parkinson's 'Pandemic' Looms: Report

URMC Designated as a Duchenne Care Center

Monday, February 11, 2019

Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing care and research for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, has named the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) a Certified Duchenne Care Center.  This program of leading centers, created in 2014 by PPMD, reviews and recognizes clinics nationwide for their outstanding neuromuscular programs. 

 “Our goal is to make a positive impact on the quality of life of children, adolescents, and adults affected by Duchenne by providing a team of experts in all specialties needed to best care for patients, a friendly and supportive atmosphere, and coordinated care that is highly accessible for families,” said Emma Ciafaloni, M.D., the director of the URMC Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Clinic. “We are honored to be recognized by PPMD as a Certified Duchenne Care Center as we continue to provide the best care and support possible for Duchenne patients and their families.”

Read More: URMC Designated as a Duchenne Care Center