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Archive - Sep 26, 2017


Researchers Identify Possible Biomarker for Diagnosing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) During Life

A new biomarker (CCL11, a small cytokine) for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has been discovered that may allow the disease to be diagnosed during life for the first time. The findings, which were published online on September26, 2017 in PLOS ONE, might also help distinguish CTE from Alzheimer's disease, which often presents with symptoms similar to CTE and also can only be diagnosed post-mortem. The ability to diagnose CTE in living individuals would allow for research into prevention and treatment of the disease. The open-access PLOS ONE article is titled “CCL11 Is Increased in the CNS in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy But Not in Alzheimer’s Disease.” Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and the VA Boston Healthcare System (VABHS) studied the brains of 23 former college and professional football players. They compared them to the brains of 50 non-athletes with Alzheimer's disease and 18 non-athlete controls. The scientists observed that CCL11 levels were normal in the brains of the non-athlete controls and non-athletes with Alzheimer's disease, but were significantly elevated in the brains of individuals with CTE. The rsearchers then compared the degree of elevation of CCL11 to the number of years those individuals played football and found that there was a positive correlation between the CCL11 levels and the number of years played.

Pigeons Better at Multitasking Than Humans in Some Situations; Higher Density of Neurons in Brain May Be Reason

Pigeons are capable of switching between two tasks as quickly as humans – and even more quickly in certain situations. These are the findings of biopsychologists who performed the same behavioral experiments to test birds and humans. The authors hypothesize that the cause of the slight multitasking advantage in birds is their higher neuronal density. Dr. Sara Letzner and Professor Dr. Onur Güntürkün from Ruhr-Universität Bochum published the results in the September 25, 2017 issue of Current Biology, in collaboration with Professor Dr. Christian Beste from the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus at Technische Universität Dresden. The open-access article is titled “How Birds Outperform Humans in Multi-Component Behavior.” “For a long time, scientists used to believe the mammalian cerebral cortex to be the anatomical cause of cognitive ability; it is made up of six cortical layers,” says Dr. Letzner. In birds, however, such a structure does not exist. “That means the structure of the mammalian cortex cannot be decisive for complex cognitive functions such as multitasking,” continues Dr. Letzner. The pallium of birds does not have any layers comparable to those in the human cortex; but its neurons are more densely packed than in the cerebral cortex in humans: pigeons, for example, have six times as many nerve cells as humans per cubic millimeter of brain. Consequently, the average distance between two neurons in pigeons is fifty per cent shorter than in humans. As the speed at which nerve cell signals are transmitted is the same in both birds and mammals, researchers had assumed that information is processed more quickly in avian brains than in mammalian brains.

Ascorbate Peroxidase Proximity Labeling Used to Identify Promoters of Mitochondria-Endoplasmic Reticulum Contacts; Advance Could Aid Understanding of Certain Neurodegenerative Diseases

Inside every cell is a complex infrastructure of organelles carrying out different functions. Organelles must exchange signals and materials to make the cell operate correctly. New technologies are allowing researchers to see and understand the networks that connect these organelles, allowing the scientists to build maps of the trade routes that exist within a cell. A study to be published in the September 29, 2017 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and published online on July 31, 2017, reports the use of an emerging method to identify proteins that allows two organelles, the mitochondria and the endoplasmic reticulum, to attach to each other. The open-access JBC article is titled “Ascorbate Peroxidase Proximity Labeling Coupled with Biochemical Fractionation Identifies Promoters of Endoplasmic Reticulum Mitochondrial Contacts.” "Think of [an organelle] like a ferry docking at one site, unloading and loading passengers and cars, and then going to another site and doing the same thing," said Dr. Jeffrey Golden, a professor at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School who oversaw the work. "Their ability to dock, load, and unload cargo requires guides or ramps of specific width and heights that connect the boat and land or they cannot freely load and unload." Contact points between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and mitochondria are those "ramps" and "guides" that enable these contacts. They permit important activities like signaling, exchange of calcium and lipids, and control of mitochondrial physiology. Faulty connections between ER and mitochondria have been implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.

Invitation to ASEMV 2017 Annual Meeting (Exosomes & Microvesicles) in Asilomar, California (October 8-12)

The American Society for Exosomes and Microvesicles (ASEMV) is inviting interested scientists to the ASEMV 2017 meeting, to be held October 8-12, 2017 at the Asilomar Conference Center in California. This center is located on the Monterrey peninsula, just south of San Francisco ( The meeting will cover the full breadth of the exosome field, from basic cell biology to clinical applications, and follow the ASEMV tradition of inclusion and diversity as participants learn about the latest advances in the field. ASEMV 2017 is a forum for learning the latest discoveries in the field of exosomes, microvesicles, and extracellular RNAs. Over the course of four days at the Asilomar Conference Center, ASEMV 2017 will offer presentations from leading scientists and young researchers. Topics will span the breadth of the extracellular vesicle/RNA field, including the basic sciences, disease research, translation efforts, and clinical applications. Talks will be presented in multiple sessions, beginning at 7 pm on Sunday, October 8, 2017, and concluding at 4 pm on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Poster sessions will run throughout the meeting, with ample time to get to know your colleagues in the field and explore the many opportunities in this rapidly expanding field. Please see the links below.