In the news / Brain

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There is a new treatment for Alzheimer's, after 20 years, now approved by the FDA, a drug called Aducanumab. This drug targets beta-amyloid plaques in the brain and removes some of those plaques.
 
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The mentoring relationship between two University of Arizona faculty members is advancing research for patients with brain damage at any stage in life. One of those research leaders, Dr. Roberta Brinton, founding director of the UArizona Center for Innovation in Brain Science and BIO5 member, has discovered that regenerative therapeutics may help pediatric and aging populations. This research out of UArizona Health Sciences may help both premature babies and patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
 
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Sleep is a big deal, and we’re not getting enough. An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans are affected by poor sleep and it’s having an impact on both our mental and physical health.

 
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The new Center for Innovation in Brain Science requires a team of diverse experts – the brightest minds specializing in aging, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and ALS, and experts in bioenergetics of the brain, immunology, stem cell biology, big data and computational systems biology. Lead by Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, is leading the way in the fight against neurodegenerative diseases that affect millions of people worldwide, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
 
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Dr. Michael Grandner, director of the UArizona Sleep and Health Research Program and BIO5 member, explains the biology behind a good night's sleep and gives suggestions for adjusting your sleep schedule. Dr. Grandner traces our decline in daytime napping to the start of the industrial revolution, which solidified the monophasic sleep pattern (sleeping in one bout per night) that’s most common today.
 
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"We hope to be able to continue to not only understand the pathways that go wrong in these degenerating neurons but maybe taking this information and figuring out ways to stop the progression of the disease and improve the lives of patients,” Zarnescu said.
 
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Dr. Roberta Brinton, the director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at the University of Arizona and BIO5 member discovered the disparities in how women are more likely to develop brain diseases and autoimmune conditions such as Alzheimer's and Multiple Sclerosis.
 
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With the help of headsets and backpacks on mice, scientists are using light to switch nerve cells on and off in the rodents' brains to probe the animals' social behavior, a new study shows.
 
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Seven graduating University of Arizona seniors will be honored for their extraordinary accomplishments during a series of graduation ceremonies to celebrate the class of 2021. Nominated by faculty and peers, this year's seven student award winners were selected based on their integrity, notable achievements and positive contributions to their families and communities. Among these honorees are Alyssa Jean Peterson, Akshay Nathan, and Daniel Weiland, successful undergraduate researchers in the labs of BIO5 faculty, and all planning to continue their studies in STEM.
 
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Emily Merritt, who is pursuing a doctorate in immunobiology, was one of the first students to participate in the Infection and Inflammation as Drivers of Aging, a program funded by a National Institutes of Health T32 training grant, which supports four graduate or post-doctoral students annually. She and four other students presented their research virtually at the inaugural Infection and Inflammation as Drivers of Aging symposium in January. The research topics ranged from chronic inflammatory response to ischemic stroke and tracking antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in aging individuals. Merritt presented on Toxoplasma gondii, a single-celled parasite she studies under the guidance of Dr. Anita Koshy, professor of neurology and BIO5 member.
 
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Recognizing progress BIO5 researchers are making against this devastating neurodegenerative condition during Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.
 
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The National Academy of Inventors has named 61 academic inventors to the 2021 class of NAI Senior Members. Among them are University of Arizona Health Sciences professors Drs. May Khanna and Meredith Hay. NAI Senior Members are active faculty, scientists and administrators from NAI Member Institutions who have demonstrated remarkable innovation producing technologies that have brought, or aspire to bring, real impact on the welfare of society.
 
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UArizona molecular and cellular biology professor and BIO5 member Dr. Daniela Zarnescu, leads her lab in using fruit flies to study neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS. Dr. Zarnescu’s team have shown that locomotor defects are observed, like with ALS patients, where Dlp, short for Dally-like protein – is reduced at the site. The next step in this research is restoring the protein that corresponds to Dlp in humans, with hopes that it will increase motor function in patients.
 
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By mashing up brains from various insect species, neuroscientists at the University of Arizona introduce a practical technique for quantifying the neurons that make up the brains of invertebrate animals. In addition to revealing interesting insights into the evolution of insect brains, the work provides a more meaningful metric than traditional studies measuring brain size or weight.
 
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Researchers at University of Arizona have developed a device used to study the link between brain behavior and vocalization. Using new methods of antenna design and optimized electronics, Jokubas Ausra, a biomedical engineering doctoral student in the lab of BIO5 member Dr. Philpp Gutruf, was able to shrink the devices dramatically compared to existing versions, to about a third of the size of a dime and as thin as a sheet of paper. Co-senior author on the study and also a BIO5 member, Dr. Julie Miller, is helping the team with the goal to expand device capabilities to also record neuron activity.
 
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We’re highlighting our researchers’ efforts against this major cause of death and disability in the United States during National Traumatic Brain Injury Month.
 
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UArizona sleep researchers are working to tackle insomnia, sleep apnea and pandemic-induced "coronasomnia."
 
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Scientists continue to investigate how COVID-19 affects our senses and changes the way we interact with society. University of Arizona Neurology professor and BIO5 member Dr. Katalin Gothard, says the isolation that comes with COVID-19 especially impacts our sense of touch. She is also studying how COVID-19 is changing our brain chemistry.