Researchers have developed a system to speed up screening of existing drugs that might work against an aggressive and rare form of pediatric brain cancer called Group 3 medulloblastoma. Growing cells taken from those patients’ tumors is difficult, so instead the scientists genetically reprogrammed human neural stem cells to behave like medulloblastoma cells. They then compared those cells’ genetic profile with the profiles of hundreds of common, lab-grown human cancer cells already matched with existing drugs known to work against them. Using this method, the scientists zeroed in on a group of compounds that might work against the rare medulloblastoma, one of which is already in early clinical trials in children with various brain tumors.
Working with a lab model of medulloblastoma from human cells rather than mouse cells, the researchers can be more confident that patient responses to the screened drugs will be similar, according to Eric Raabe, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.
Funding: Funding for the study was provided by the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, Giant Food’s Pediatric Cancer Research Fund, the Spencer Grace Foundation, the Deming Family, the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation, the National Cancer Institute (P30 CA006973, U01 CA176152, R01 CA154480, R01 CA109467), the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (R01 NS055089), the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (R01 GM074024) and the Comprehensive Cancer Center Freiburg.
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We are still in the dark about many of the brain’s details, but scientists are constantly searching for new ways to switch on lights inside. These green-coloured branches are nerves in a mouse brain, genetically engineered to produce fluorescence. Remarkable as this technology is, it is actually fairly old. Yet hidden between the glowing branches, a new technique shows a different type of brain activity. The purple-coloured speckles are mRNAs – messenger molecules vital to building and maintaining life. This brain is encased in a special jelly, fixing the mRNAs in place so they can be lit up with a technique called single-molecule FISH. Dotted throughout the green nerves, these particular messenger molecules produce scaffolding to support nerve endings. Investigating mRNA patterns in human brains may pinpoint differences between healthy nerves and those suffering from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
An unusual study reports the effects of emoticons on human brain activity: Neural correlates of text-based emoticons South Korean neuroscientists Ko Woon Kim et al. used fMRI to record brain activation in 18 volunteers who were shown various expressive text symbols, in both the Asian ‘vertical’ and Western 'horizontal’ styles: However, it turned out that the brain doesn’t really respond to emoticons at all: there was no significant difference in the brain response to the real emoticons
How you feel about this will impact your view of education. What do you want your brain to be able to do? What do you expect of your students with regard to learning? What do consider to be reasonable expectations from instructors?
reliance on the Internet and the ease of access to the vast resource
available online is affecting our thought processes for problem solving,
recall and learning. In a new article published in the journal Memory,
researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz and University
of Illinois, Urbana Champaign have found that ‘cognitive offloading’, or
the tendency to rely on things like the Internet as an aide-mémoire,
increases after each use. We might think that memory is something that
happens in the head but increasingly it is becoming something that
happens with the help of agents outside the head.
“Using the Internet to
access information inflates future use of the Internet to access other
information” by Benjamin C. Storm, Sean M. Stone and Aaron S. Benjamin
in Memory. Published online July 18 2016 doi:10.1080/09658211.2016.1210171