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Interrupted Alzheimer’s vaccine study yields hopeful results, as new clinical trial prepares to open at UM- Training the body's immune system to fight back against Alzheimer's disease may still offer a promising option for slowing or even preventing the tragic brain disorder that affects 4.5 million Americans. That's the conclusion of two new papers published in the journal Neurology by an international team of researchers who vaccinated hundreds of Alzheimer's disease patients with beta amyloid, a protein that builds up in Alzheimer's-affected brains. 5/09/05
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute published an article, The Synapse Revealed, on the function of synapses in learning, behavior, thinking and memory and the importance of synaptic plasticity. In a related article, Prions on My Mind, they suggest that prions, despite their role in many neurodegenerative disorders such as Mad Cow Disease, may also function in memory storage. 2/09/05
Digital Evolution-See this story on the Biology Page. 1/30/05
Medicinal Critters-Relatively recently, the
FDA has approved two animals for use as medical devices. Leeches have
long been used in medicine for various reasons, but lately their use for
appendage reattachment surgeries and plastic surgery has become
commonplace. They are useful for their ability to relieve the vascular
congestion which can prevent healing. For further reading see this
commentary , from an otolaryngolgist. Also see
Brain Driven Prostheses-A company called Cyberkinetics Inc is developing a device known as the BrainGate™ Neural Interface System which consists of an implant into the motor cortex of the brain linked to processors which allow a subject to interact with a computer which in turn drives prosthetic devices. Clinical trials are already underway. Given the plasticity of both the cortex of the brain and computers, the possibilities for further applications of this system seem endless. References: Discover, Cyberkinetics Inc. 1/25/05.