Tag Archives: Stanford

Lasers: A new way to map the brain!

pixabay lasersResearchers have found a way to map the brain using lasers! Chemists from Stanford University have come up with a way to track blood vessels in the brain in a new, non-invasive technique. Ultimately, this research could help improve the understanding of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Current methods for investigating the brain are either too invasive or not detailed enough. Surgery can cause trauma that can negatively impact brain activity, and while MRIs and CT scans can give a good amount of information, sometimes it just isn’t enough.

That’s where this new technique comes in. Researchers inject water-soluble carbon nanotubes into a mouse’s bloodstream. These nanotubes fluoresce at particular wavelengths, so when researchers shine a near-infrared laser over the mouse’s skull, they can see the nanotubes, which show the structures of blood vessels. Scientists were able to see about 3mm underneath the scalp, and this technique doesn’t appear to have any negative effects on brain functions.

This research was developed in mice, but it may be able to be used in humans as well. The technique would need to be modified to allow researchers to see deeper into the brain, and they would need to identify an appropriate fluorescing agent to use. But hopefully, this new technique could give researchers a new way to study strokes, migraines, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. Read more about it here:

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/august/skull-blood-flow-080614.html

Do you hear what I hear?

pixabay earBy using a device that provides high-resolution images of the inner ear, researchers are learning about the mechanics of hearing. In order to develop therapies for hearing loss, it’s important to understand the functions of different areas of the cochlea, and until now, that hasn’t been very easy.

Because the cochlea is so small and difficult to access, researchers haven’t been able to study it very easily without causing damage to the ear. But by using this technology (OCT, or optical coherence tomography), researchers at Texas A&M and Stanford have been able to gather information about the way the cochlea converts vibrations into nerve impulses to create sound without having to open the bone around it.

The concept has been proven in mice, and researchers have been able to gather measurements without causing any damage to the mouse cochlea or surrounding tissues. A prototype device has been developed for human use. If researchers can map the human cochlea and determine what happens to the inner ear during progressive or traumatic loss, it’s possible that specific therapies for hearing loss will be able to be developed! Read more about it here:

http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2014/07/07/applegate-inner-ear

Drug could protect against deadly doses of radiation

iStock_000021920206SmallUnfortunately, the nuclear disasters in Chernobyl and Fukushima have shown us just how catastrophic radiation can be. But what if there was a way to intervene in the 24 hours after radiation exposure, limiting damage to the human body? Researchers are optimistic that they’ve discovered a promising treatment.

Normally, radiation exposure affects the integrity of the intestines, which can lead to radiation-induced gastrointestinal syndrome (RIGS). There is no cure for RIGS, but now, there might be a way to prevent it. But by administering a compound (DMOG) that blocks certain proteins, researchers found that in mice, tissues were modified in a way that allowed them to repair and regenerate.

A potential treatment for those exposed to radiation is really good news. The survival rate in mice was greatly increased after this therapy, and there’s a possibility that this could also have an impact on patients receiving radiation during cancer treatments. While it’s too early to tell whether or not cancer patients could benefit from this drug, the good news is that it’s already in clinical trials to treat a blood disorder, so safety assessments are already in the works. Read more about the research here:

http://news.sciencemag.org/health/2014/05/drug-could-protect-against-radiation-exposure

Alzheimer’s: Mice are pointing researchers in a new direction

iStock_000012365285XSmallA new research study at Stanford may shed some light on the cause of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Through research in mice, it was found that an immune protein called C1q is involved in the process of creating and destroying synapses (a normal process in the developing brain). The characteristics of C1q also make it capable of accumulating on dead or dying cells. As C1q clings to synapses, a chain reaction occurs, and as more and more C1q accumulates, immune cells are triggered to ‘attack’ these areas. Previously, it was thought that loss of synapses triggers inflammation, but it may be the other way around.

Human and mouse brains that have been studied post-mortem show that C1q increases dramatically with age. This could explain why aging brains are vulnerable to neurodegenerative diseases, why kids are not affected. This new find gives researchers a better insight into the immune system’s function as it relates to aging diseases, and could point them in a new direction for a possible cure. Stay tuned… this will certainly be investigated further, and hopefully give scientists a better understanding of Alzheimer’s in human patients!

Check out the article here:

http://consumer.healthday.com/senior-citizen-information-31/misc-aging-news-10/alzheimer-s-research-takes-a-surprising-new-turning-679219.html