This week’s roundup of recent developments in neuroscience kicks off with a study from MIT, where engineers have devised a way to automate the process of monitoring neurons in a living brain using a computer algorithm that analyzes microscope images and guides a robotic arm to the target cell. In the above image, a pipette guided by a robotic arm approaches a neuron identified with a fluorescent stain.
Neurosurgeons at the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University. They report two new ways to improve outcomes of induced pluropontent stem cell-based therapies for Parkinson’s disease in monkey brains. The findings are a key step for patient recruitment of the first iPS cell-based therapy to treat neurodegenerative diseases, since one of the last steps before treating patients with an experimental cell therapy for the brain is confirmation that the therapy works in monkeys.
In other Parkinson’s news, the FDA has denied Acorda Therapeutics New Drug Application filing for Inbrija. Inbrija is an inhaled, self-administered, form of levodopa for treating Parkinson’s disease. According to the FDA, reason for the denial were the date when the manufacturing site would be ready for inspection, and a question regarding submission of the drug master production record. FDA also requested additional information at resubmission, which was not part of the basis for the refusal.
At the University of Turku, in Finland, researchers have revealed how eating stimulates the brain’s endogenous opioid system to signal pleasure and satiety. Interestingly, eating both bland and delicious meals triggered significant opioid release in the brain.
A young New York woman with severe headaches represented a never-before-seen case for neurosurgeons at New York Presbyterian. She was diagnosed with an unusual form of hydrocephalus/Chiari malformation, in which the skull is too small and restricted the brain. More about her in the video below:
Tinnitus, a chronic ringing or buzzing in the ears, has eluded medical treatment and scientific understanding. A new University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign study found that chronic tinnitus is associated with changes in certain networks in the brain, and furthermore, those changes cause the brain to stay more at attention and less at rest. The finding provides patients with validation of their experiences and hope for future treatment options.
In social media news, research by BuzzFeed found more than half of the most-shared scientific stories about autism published in the last five years promote unevidenced or disproven treatments, or purported causes. More disturbingly, families in the autism community are excessively targeted by purveyors of bad information, making them more vulnerable to harmful, unproven so-called treatments.