September’s Neuropathology Update

A new web-tool for sequencers, research on Alzheimer’s and CTE in American Football…

We bring you all the latest news and developments from the world of Neuropathology, including recent discoveries concerning the effect that epigenetic changes might have on Alzheimer’s disease, how a new kind of enhancer drug might be the key to treating pediatric brain cancers and more…

Nauen Lab’s Transcript Consensus is open for use

A new web-tool has been published to allow genomic researchers to better understand and identify shared DNA sequences. TraC (short for transcript consensus) has been designed to give scientists all over the world access to an ever growing data set of mRNA data, sourced from public repositories of gene sequences. The search tool finds all sequences shared by two (or more) splice variants and depicts these results in the form of an intuitive, interactive plot which has the potential to be of use to anyone researching DNA.

This tool comes courtesy of the Nauen Lab at John Hopkins University, a research team that specialises in the area of epilepsy, specifically MTLE (medial temporal lobe epilepsy). MTLE is a form of epilepsy that occurs in patients after a head injury or series of febrile seizures. Many patients do not experience the debilitating effects of epilepsy until many years after the initial injury, indicating that the neural circuit of the medial lobe undergoes a pathological remodelling over a long period of time. This slow-burn onset makes it very difficult for an effective diagnosis to be made. Thankfully, through on going research into electrophysiology and morphology, the team at the Nauen Lab are getting closer to understanding the process of MTLE.

See the new web tool here.

UK Researchers inch closer to demystifying Alzheimer’s disease

Over 26 million people are affected by Alzheimer’s disease globally, a number that only continues to grow as the world population ages. After a series of breakthrough studies, researchers from the University of Exeter and King’s College London are getting closer to understanding the causes behind Alzheimer’s Disease. Current studies have discovered that chemical changes to DNA, specifically within the ANK1 gene, are associated with measures of neuropathology in the brain. The study, which was published inĀ Nature Neuroscience, revealed that patients who had a higher concentration of Alzheimer’s neuropathology also had more DNA modifications within their ANK1 gene.

It has long been expected that Alzheimer’s disease damages particular regions of the brain, post-mortem examinations of patients have suggested that regions such as the entorhinal cortex were particularly vulnerable to damage. If further research confirms a link between Alzheimer’s Disease and epigenetic changes in the brain then researchers will be another step closer to understanding how this disease is caused and how we can go about reversing its damaging effects.

See the abstract for the complete research here.

CTE & Statistical Mis-Truths

The term ‘fake-news’ is bandied around a lot these days and, although the term is more commonly associated with the political machinations of Presidents and Prime Ministers, it’s important to remember that ‘mis-truths’ can crop up in all sorts of places. Twitter posts and Facebook feeds might well have been the battleground of lies that led up to a number of elections and referenda in 2o16, but this wasn’t the year that fake news was invented – far from it. Newspaper headlines have been playing their part for decades and it was one particular headline that caused a particular kind of uproar in the USA.

The headline in question read: “CTE found in 99% of brains from deceased NFL players”. After an article on this topic was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the American media went into a frenzy and parents across the country pulled their children from any football related activities. Dr. Peter Cummings, a forensic pathologist, was one of these parents, but after he had a look into the statistics behind the headlines he found himself doubting his initial actions.

See Dr. Cummings post here.