In the news / Brain

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With support from a grant from the National Institute on Aging, researchers will test a novel intervention that uses near-infrared light to enhance brain function and fight cognitive decline.
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A team led by The BIO5 Institute's Roberta Diaz Brinton, PhD, director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science, received the multi-million dollar grant from the National Institute on Aging. The five-year grant will fund a national multi-site Phase 2 clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of allopregnanalone, or allo, as a treatment for individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s who carry the genetic risk factor for the disease. This award supports the goals of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act.
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A new study led by scientists at the UA has uncovered a potential new way to treat patients with ALS, a debilitating neurodegenerative disease. “The fact that we uncovered a compensatory mechanism surprised me,” says UA Molecular and Cellular Biology professor and BIO5 researcher Dr. Daniela Zarnescu.
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BIO5 Faculty Dr. Haijiang Cai, lead a team of UA neuroscientists in a new study which shows that multiple neurons within the brain come together to regulate the need to eat and feeling of fullness, or satiety.
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A team of UA researchers including Director of the Evelyn F Mcknight Brain Institute Dr. Carol Barnes, and UA Physiology professor Dr. Meredith Hay, both BIO5 faculty, have proposed a precision aging model designed to help researchers better understand and treat age-related cognitive decline on an individual level.
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Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's. "And once it begins, it's something that unfortunately we can't stop," said Dr. Matt Grilli, director at University of Arizona's Human Memory Lab. Now scientists are starting to get a clearer picture of the disease.
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Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition that has been associated with increased mortality. A UA physician-scientist has worked alongside BIO5 faculty members Drs. Raymond Woosley and Bonnie Lafleur, resulting in the awarding of a grant for research to analyze databases from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Banner Health, to better understand the relationship between the sleep disorder and death.
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To understand our ability to remember changes as we age in hopes of improving it, and preventing Alzheimer's disease and dementia, researchers including Dr. Carol Barnes, Director of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute and BIO5 faculty member, envision a field of "precision aging.”
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By studying a rare form of dementia along with scientists at University of Toronto's Baycrest Health Sciences Centre, a team lead by UA Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences Assistant Professor and BIO5 Member Dr. Aneta Kielar, might have found an early detection method for some forms of dementia.
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The Excellence in Prehospital Injury Care or EPIC project was funded by a $3.6 million grant from the NINDS, part of the NIH. Before EPIC, first responders were taught to hyperventilate people with a TBI. The researchers behind EPIC including BIO5’s Drs. Kurt Denninghoff and Chengcheng Hu showed that, during hyperventilation, internal carbon dioxide levels fall and this constricts the brain’s blood vessels depriving the brain of blood and oxygen.
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A team at the UA College of Medicine found that 75% of victims with neck and head injuries also have oral injuries, so local experts, including BIO5's Dr. Jonathon Lifshitz, Director of the UA Translational Neurotrauma Research Program, agree dentists could play a large roll in identifying and putting a stop to that violence.
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Arizona researchers including the BIO5 Institute's Dr. Eric Reiman, Executive Director of Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix, contributed to a recent study of former pro football players in an effort to diagnose a degenerative brain disease in living patients.
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BIO5's Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, an internationally recognized expert on Alzheimer’s disease and Inaugural Director of the Center for Innovation in Brain Science at UAHS, has received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health Institute on Aging. With the funding, Brinton will develop a unique training program to cultivate a diverse pool of highly trained scientists from diverse fields who can effectively address the nation’s Alzheimer’s research needs.
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Tech Launch Arizona, UA’s technology commercialization arm, honored some of its most promising inventors and biggest supporters at the I-Squared Awards Banquet and Expo earlier this month. Awardees included BIO5's Director Dr. Jennifer Barton with Campus Collaborator of the Year award, as well as BIO5 member Dr. Louise Hecker who was named Inventor of the Year.
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Dr. Gene Alexander, UA Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry and BIO5 member, is researching the use of neuroimaging, or brain scans, to investigate who is likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.
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Women tend to have more youthful brains than their male counterparts — at least when it comes to metabolism. The finding is "great news for many women," says BIO5's Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, the Director of the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science, but she cautions that even though women's brain metabolism is higher overall, some women's brains experience a dramatic metabolic decline around menopause, leaving them vulnerable to Alzheimer's.
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A common parasite found in cat intestines may take away the natural fear of dangerous behavior from some animals—and humans. Dr. Anita Koshy, member of the BIO5 Institute and an Associate Professor in the UA College of Medicine's Department of Neurology, as well as in the Department of Immunobiology, is focused on researching this parasite, called Toxoplasma gondii, and how it interacts with the brain.
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Imaging and genomic technologies have dramatically increased the amount of information generated and used to make clinical decisions for diseases like Alzheimer's. “There is an untapped opportunity to leverage existing data from longitudinal cohorts, from the postmortem human brain, and from clinical trials to help the field advance our shared goals more effectively than we otherwise could,” said BIO5 member Dr. Eric Reiman, Executive Director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute.
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A team of UA scientists hope they have made progress toward a next-generation drug that may slow tumor growth and boost radiation’s effectiveness in patients with glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer. The team includes BIO5 member Dr. Michael Hammer, Co-Director of the UA Cancer Center Genomics Shared Resource.
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Researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson have keyed into the biological mishap that causes stunted brain growth and, ultimately, muscle movement failure. “We wanted to figure out the biological processes leading to the disease,” said May Khanna, PhD, UA assistant professor of neuroscience and pharmacology. “That knowledge could help us develop a drug to stop the disease progression. Right now, there is no cure.”
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A team of University of Arizona researchers who looked for genetic differences between glioblastoma cells from long- and short-term survivors discovered that those who survived longer had a protein that might be targeted to increase survival in all glioblastoma patients. The results were presented this month at the Society for Neuro-Oncology conference in New Orleans. This work is in its early stages, and the researchers say they are many years and millions of dollars away from potential translation into treatments for patients.
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Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, BIO5 member and inaugural Director for the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science joins fellow advocates for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's Disease, including Maria Shriver, in a nationwide plea for elected officials, candidates, and all Americans to prioritize a future without Alzheimer's.
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A UA research team is trying to solve the mystery behind amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. BIO5's molecular biologist Dr. Daniela Zarnescu is using a catalog of genetic information to sift through a list of drugs that could provide clues to successfully battle the disease.
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Researchers with the UA College of Medicine— Tucson, including BIO5 members Dr. Todd Vanderah and Dr. Tally Largent-Milnes, have received grants totaling $1.3 million from the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission, in support of their efforts to develop non-addictive medications to block chronic pain, the major culprit in the opioid epidemic responsible for the deaths of 64,000 Americans.
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The Arizona Biomedical Research Commission has recognized 14 researchers from the UA Health Sciences to receive grant awards totaling more than $5.92 million. Eight of those researchers are BIO5 members, including Dr. Frank Duca, Dr. Louise Hecker, Dr. Tally Largent-Milnes, Dr. John Purdy, Dr. Benjamin Renquist, Dr. Todd Vanderah, Dr. Jun Wang, and Dr. Frederic Zenhausern.
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Recent research on head trauma has been focused on NFL athletes, whose brains have been shown to be damaged after years of hits to the heads. A team of Chicago researchers and domestic violence advocates will travel to Phoenix to learn how to better assess survivors of brain injuries from BIO5's Dr. Jonathan Lifshitz, director of the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine’s Translational Neurotrauma Research Program.
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People with the rare disease called primary progressive aphasia may recruit intact brain areas for help with language, according to a new UA-led study. Aneta Kielar, BIO5 member and UA assistant professor of speech, language and hearing sciences and of cognitive science, is first author on the study.
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How do we cure the opioid epidemic? We create non-opioid related pain treatments—says the UA, 2014 Flinn Scholar who will be presenting her research in Washington D.C. She has been doing laboratory work under the BIO5 Institute's Dr. Rajesh Khanna.
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Dr. Kristian Doyle, BIO5 member and Assistant Professor in the UA Department of Immunobiology, has discovered this liquefied brain tissue is toxic and can slowly leak into the healthy portion of the brain, causing harm. The discovery may help develop new treatments to prevent dementia after stroke.
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It's not concussions, but rather repetitive hits to the head, that cause traumatic brain injury in football players says a new study headed by the BIO5 Institute's Dr. Jonathan Lifshitz.
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Dr. Amelia Gallitano of the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix studies genetic pathways and their response to the environment, hoping to improve treatments for mental illness. She has received a grant to develop the first diagnostic test for schizophrenia.
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A coalition of researchers, including BIO5's Dr. Janko Nikolich-Zugich and several others from the UA, have received a $10 million grant over five years to conduct research on the human immune system and aging.
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A new study says menopause causes metabolic changes in the brain that could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s in women. The BIO5 Institute's Dr. Roberta Diaz Brinton, director of the UA Center for Innovation in Brain Science, is one of the researchers on the study.
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Arizona Spotlight looks at the current addiction crisis beyond opioids, through the words of people who struggle to overcome their issues. Dr. Todd Vanderah, BIO5 member and professor in the Department of Pharmacology at UA, who studies changes to brain chemistry that occur in response to addiction, is featured.
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Two UA researchers, including BIO5's Dr. Gene Alexander, recently combed through literature and developed a model that might explain why physical and mental health are so closely connected.
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Studying the aging brain's susceptibility to Alzheimer's Disease, BIO5's Dr. Roberta Brinton discovered dramatic differences between how female and male brains generate the energy they need as the brain ages.
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We have yet to find a cure for most human neurodegenerative disorders. However, because all of these diseases share a common underlying mechanism, BIO5 researcher Dr. Tricia Serio believes that we will soon be able to halt and reverse their progression — by way of baker’s yeast.
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Research shows that only a small portion people will experience severe dementia as they get older. “That means 86 percent of us age normally,” says Dr. Carol Barnes of the BIO5 Institute.
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A thriller starring Ben Kingsley and Ryan Reynolds explores the idea of transferring consciousness from one body to another. Dr. Charles Higgins, one of the movie’s scientific consultants, and UA associate professor of neuroscience and electrical engineering, has a particularly interesting perspective on this topic, because he has been interfacing insect brains with robots.