Tag Archives: Wellcome Trust

New Discovery On Cause Of Tremor

 

In a new discovery, UK scientists have found a mechanism in the spine that counteracts the brain waves that produce tremor: they suggest the discovery could help around 1 million people in the UK who suffer from shakes and tremors.

A paper on the research that led to the discovery, which was funded by the Wellcome Trust, and conducted by scientists at the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, was published online ahead of print in the 1 June issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Most healthy individuals have experienced mild tremor, it is not uncommon when we feel tired, hungry or nervous, but more severe forms can be a symptom of neurological disease, including Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and also Essential Tremor which is usually a disease of old age but it can also affect young people and it often leaves patients unable to walk unaided.

Dr Stuart Baker, professor of movement neuroscience at Newcastle, told the media that:

“We don’t fully understand the brain systems causing these tremors but they can really have a massive impact on someone’s quality of life. They lose their independence and can’t do something as simple as make a cup of tea.”

Baker explained the approach they took in their research: instead of looking at why people have tremors, they decided to investigate why most people don’t have them.

He said that the part of the brain that controls movement produces brain waves the work at 10 cycles per second, so in theory everyone should have tremors that have that frequency.

In fact we do, said Baker, but the tremor is so smal that we don’t notice it. So he and his team wondered if there was another process at work, one that countered the effect of the 10 cycles per second.

For their study, Baker and colleagues used macaque monkeys: they taught them how to move their index finger backwards and forwards very slowly, which exacerbated the natural minor tremor that we humans and our primate relatives have in common.

They then recorded nerve cell activity in the brain and spinal cord as the animals performed their slow finger movements.

The results showed that not only was the rhythm of nerve cell activity in the brain and spinal cord oscillating at around the same frequency as the tremor, but that the spinal cord was exactly out of phase with the brain, effectively cancelling out its oscillations and thus reducing the size of the tremor.

The researchers wrote that:

Convergence of antiphase oscillations from the SC [spinal cord] with cortical and subcortical descending inputs will lead to cancellation of approximately 10 Hz oscillations at the motoneuronal level.”

They concluded that:

“This could appreciably limit drive to muscle at this frequency, thereby reducing tremor and improving movement precision. ”

Baker said there are many types of disease associated with tremor, and perhaps in some of these the controller in the spine malfunctions and that is what actually leads to tremor.

In other diseases, he said, we already know the cause of tremor is a problem in brain regions that produce abnormally high oscillations.

“But even then, the spinal system we have discovered will reduce tremors, making the symptoms much less severe than they would otherwise be,” he added.

The researchers suggested that the more we understand about how the spinal controller works, the better chance we have of developing treatments that adjust it to work better and thereby reduce the levels of tremor that patients experience and improve their quality of life.

“Spinal interneuron circuits reduce approximately 10-Hz movement discontinuities by phase cancellation.”

Source: Medical News Today.Jun 2. 2010

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Biting Back At Malaria With Mosquitoes

CLICK & SEEAn American scientist is leading an international team of researchers using an army of blood-sucking mosquitoes to produce a potentially potent vaccine against malaria.

CLICK & SEE

Stephen Hoffman, 58, founded Sanaria Inc, a biotech firm solely dedicated to the production of a vaccine against malaria.
Hoffman officially opened a manufacturing facility on Friday in the Washington suburb of Rockville, where he said he aims to produce 75 to 100 million doses a year. “The opening of this facility is an important step in the process to develop a whole-parasite malaria vaccine,” he said. The scientist said he was optimistic the vaccine could be tested in clinical trials by late 2008.

His goal, which has received US government support, was given a major boost in late 2006 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated 29.3 million dollars through the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative, Hoffman said. Hoffman knows the debilitating effects of malaria all too well.

In the 1980s, when he was director of the US Navy’s malaria research programme, he was so confident in a new vaccine that he reportedly let himself be bitten by mosquitoes carrying Plasmodium falciparum, the malaria parasite responsible for over 95% of severe malarial illnesses and deaths worldwide.

Sure enough, he came down with the symptoms. The vaccine did not work. Despite that failure, the researcher has taken the same approach and hopes that a vaccine can be mass produced and maintain its potency. His firm is “turning the mosquitoes into the production factories for the vaccine,” he said, adding that each mosquito can produce two doses of the vaccine. “We have a long way to go before we’ll be able to license and deploy an effective vaccine to control and eventually eradicate malaria from the world, but most importantly to prevent the 3,000 deaths that will occur today among children and one million in a year.”

Source:The Times Of India