Monthly Archives: February 2015
Hot on the heels of discovering a protective form of immune response to spinal cord injury, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have pinpointed the biological trigger for that response – a vital step toward being able to harness the body’s defenses to improve treatment for spine injuries, brain trauma, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.
This story starts in 1955, upon the death of Albert Einstein, when the pathologist charged with performing the famous scientist’s autopsy stole his brain.
Fast forward to the 1980s when a University of California, Berkeley scientist was studying parts of the stolen goods involved in complex thinking and discovered that the father of relativity had more of certain types of cells, called astrocytes, than other human brains studied.
Today, another 30 years later, scientists still don’t have a solid grasp on everything these cells do in the human nervous system, largely because they’re difficult to study.
Francesco Clark’s life is all about channeling his passion.
The Bronxville man cares deeply about what he does, which makes any recognition all the sweeter.
So when Clark was named a 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Winner, it was a moment to savor.
Clark’s Botanicals was one of 10 companies selected from a field of more than 3,200 nominees in the program that “spotlights the maker, supports the local and celebrates the handmade.”
An accidental gunshot left Kyle Bartolini paralyzed as a preschooler. But today, he’s an active teenager who can get around with crutches or a walker and loves to fish, swim, kayak and play paintball.
He owes this transformation to an exercise-based therapy that teaches lost skills to broken nervous systems. Called locomotor training, it allows people with spinal cord injuries to practice standing and stepping while suspended above a treadmill. University of Louisville Neurosurgery Professor Andrea Behrman is pioneering the treatment in children in a new pediatric program.
A new study by the Salk Institute shows that a cluster of neurons in our spinal cords function as a “mini-brain” to help us walk without constant monitoring by the brain.
In a paper published last week in the journal Cell, Salk scientists mapped the neural circuitry of the spinal cord that processes the sense of light touch. This circuitry allows the body to reflexively make small adjustments to foot position and balance using light touch sensors in the feet.
The study, conducted in mice, provides the first detailed blueprint for a spinal circuit that serves as control center for integrating motor commands from the brain with sensory information from the limbs.