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Hippocampus atrophy is implicated in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and may partly reflect stress-induced glutamate excitotoxicity that culminates in neuron injury and manifests as re-experiencing symptoms and other memory abnormalities. This study used high-field proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to determine whether PTSD is associated with lower hippocampus levels of the neuron marker N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), along with higher levels of glutamate (Glu) and Glu/NAA. We also predicted that metabolite levels would correlate with re-experiencing symptoms and lifetime trauma load. Twenty-four adult PTSD patients and 23 trauma-exposed normal controls (TENC) underwent 4T MRS of the left and right hippocampus. Participants received psychiatric interviews, and completed the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire to define lifetime trauma load. Relative to TENC participants, PTSD patients exhibited significantly lower NAA in right and left hippocampi, and significantly higher Glu and Glu/NAA in the right hippocampus. Re-experiencing symptoms were negatively correlated with left and right NAA, and positively correlated with right Glu and right Glu/NAA. Trauma load was positively correlated with right Glu/NAA in PTSD patients. When re-experiencing symptoms and trauma load were examined together in relation to right Glu/NAA, only re-experiencing symptoms remained a significant correlate. This represents the first report that PTSD is associated with MRS markers of hippocampus Glu excess, together with indices of compromised neuron integrity. Their robust associations with re-experiencing symptoms affirm that MRS indices of hippocampus neuron integrity and glutamate metabolism may reflect biomarkers of clinically significant disease variation in PTSD.Neuropsychopharmacology advance online publication, 8 March 2017; doi:10.1038/npp.2017.32. © 2017 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

By measuring this emerging vital sign, system could help monitor and diagnose health issues like cognitive decline and cardiac disease We've long known that breathing, blood pressure, body temperature and pulse provide an important window into the complexities of human health. But a growing body of research suggests that another vital sign - how fast you walk - could be a better predictor of health issues like cognitive decline, falls, and even certain cardiac or pulmonary diseases. Unfortunately, it's hard to accurately monitor walking speed in a way that's both continuous and unobtrusive. Professor Dina Katabi's group at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have been working on the problem, and believe that the answer is to go wireless. In a new paper, the team presents "WiGait," a device that can measure the walking speed of multiple people with 95 to 99 percent accuracy using wireless signals. The system is an update of a device that Katabi's team presented to President Obama in 2015. The size of a small painting, the device can be placed on the wall of a person's house. It builds on Katabi's previous work that analyzes wireless signals reflected off people's bodies to measure a range of behaviors, from breathing and falling to specific emotions. (The signals emit roughly 100 times less radiation than a standard cellphone.) "By using in-home sensors, we can see trends in how walking speed changes over longer periods of time," says lead author and PhD student Chen-Yu Hsu. "This can provide insight into whether someone should adjust their health regimens, whether that's doing physical therapy or altering their medications." WiGait is also 85 to 99 percent accurate at measuring a person's stride length, which could allow researchers to better understand conditions like Parkinson's disease that are characterized by reduced step size. Hsu and Katabi developed WiGait in collaboration with CSAIL PhD student Zachary Kabelac and master's student Rumen Hristov, alongside undergraduate Yuchen Liu from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and assistant professor Christine Liu from the Boston University School of Medicine. The team will present their paper in May at ACM's CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Colorado. Today walking speed is measured by physical therapists or clinicians using a stopwatch. Wearables like FitBit can only roughly estimate your speed based on your step count; GPS-enabled smartphones are similarly inaccurate and can't work indoors; and cameras are intrusive and can only monitor one room at a time. The only method that's comparably accurate is VICON motion-tracking, which isn't widely available enough to be practical for monitoring day-to-day health changes. Meanwhile, WiGait measures walking speed with a high level of granularity, without requiring that the person wear or carry a sensor. It does so by analyzing the surrounding wireless signals and their reflections off a person's body. Also, the team's algorithm can distinguish walking from other movements, such as cleaning the kitchen or brushing one's teeth. According to Katabi, the device could help reveal a wealth of important health information, particularly for the elderly: a change in walking speed, for example, could mean an injury or that the person is at an increased risk of falling. "Many avoidable hospitalizations are related to issues like falls, congestive heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which have all been shown to be correlated to gait speed," Katabi says. "Reducing the number of hospitalizations, even by a small amount, could vastly improve healthcare costs." The team developed WiGait to be more privacy-minded than cameras, showing you as nothing more than a moving dot on a screen. In the future they hope to train it on people with walking impairments like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's or MS, to help physicians accurately track disease progression and adjust medications. "The true novelty of this device is that it can map major metrics of health and behavior without any active engagement from the user, which is especially helpful for the cognitively impaired," says Ipsit Vahia, a geriatric clinician at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the research. "Gait speed is a proxy indicator of many clinically important conditions, and down the line this could extend to measuring sleep patterns, respiratory rates, and other vital human behaviors."


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: phys.org

Unfortunately, it's hard to accurately monitor walking speed in a way that's both continuous and unobtrusive. Professor Dina Katabi's group at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have been working on the problem, and believe that the answer is to go wireless. In a new paper, the team presents "WiGait," a device that can measure the walking speed of multiple people with 95 to 99 percent accuracy using wireless signals. The system is an update of a device that Katabi's team presented to President Obama in 2015. The size of a small painting, the device can be placed on the wall of a person's house. It builds on Katabi's previous work that analyzes wireless signals reflected off people's bodies to measure a range of behaviors, from breathing and falling to specific emotions. (The signals emit roughly 100 times less radiation than a standard cellphone.) "By using in-home sensors, we can see trends in how walking speed changes over longer periods of time," says lead author and PhD student Chen-Yu Hsu. "This can provide insight into whether someone should adjust their health regimens, whether that's doing physical therapy or altering their medications." WiGait is also 85 to 99 percent accurate at measuring a person's stride length, which could allow researchers to better understand conditions like Parkinson's disease that are characterized by reduced step size. Hsu and Katabi developed WiGait in collaboration with CSAIL PhD student Zachary Kabelac and master's student Rumen Hristov, alongside undergraduate Yuchen Liu from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and assistant professor Christine Liu from the Boston University School of Medicine. The team will present their paper in May at ACM's CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Colorado. Today walking speed is measured by physical therapists or clinicians using a stopwatch. Wearables like FitBit can only roughly estimate your speed based on your step count; GPS-enabled smartphones are similarly inaccurate and can't work indoors; and cameras are intrusive and can only monitor one room at a time. The only method that's comparably accurate is VICON motion-tracking, which isn't widely available enough to be practical for monitoring day-to-day health changes. Meanwhile, WiGait measures walking speed with a high level of granularity, without requiring that the person wear or carry a sensor. It does so by analyzing the surrounding wireless signals and their reflections off a person's body. Also, the team's algorithm can distinguish walking from other movements, such as cleaning the kitchen or brushing one's teeth. According to Katabi, the device could help reveal a wealth of important health information, particularly for the elderly: a change in walking speed, for example, could mean an injury or that the person is at an increased risk of falling. "Many avoidable hospitalizations are related to issues like falls, congestive heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which have all been shown to be correlated to gait speed," Katabi says. "Reducing the number of hospitalizations, even by a small amount, could vastly improve healthcare costs." The team developed WiGait to be more privacy-minded than cameras, showing you as nothing more than a moving dot on a screen. In the future they hope to train it on people with walking impairments like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's or MS, to help physicians accurately track disease progression and adjust medications. "The true novelty of this device is that it can map major metrics of health and behavior without any active engagement from the user, which is especially helpful for the cognitively impaired," says Ipsit Vahia, a geriatric clinician at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the research. "Gait speed is a proxy indicator of many clinically important conditions, and down the line this could extend to measuring sleep patterns, respiratory rates, and other vital human behaviors." Explore further: X-ray vision? New technology making it a reality for $300 More information: Paper: "Extracting Gait Velocity and Stride Length from Surrounding Radio Signals" people.csail.mit.edu/cyhsu/papers/wigait_chi17.pdf


The Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School has named Bill Geary to its advisory council. Geary joins a group of distinguished individuals and thought leaders charged with advising department chair Isaac Kohane as he scales up the research and education activities at Harvard Medical School’s newest academic department. The Department of Biomedical Informatics was established in 2015 to propel a radical transformation in scientific discovery, clinical medicine and population health by harnessing the power of computation to generate new insights. The department seeks to develop the methods, tools and infrastructure required for a new generation of research investigators and health care providers to move biomedicine forward by taking full advantage of existing and emerging data resources. Geary is a general partner and cofounder of Flare Capital Partners, a healthcare technology and digital health venture capital firm. Prior to that, Geary was with North Bridge Venture Partners since inception,  a partner at Hambro International Equity Partners, and the chief financial officer of MathSoft, a science and engineering applications software start-up. Geary holds an undergraduate degree from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and served as chair of the university’s Board of Trustees. Geary is a member of the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions Board of Trustees. He was previously appointed by the Massachusetts governor to the oversight council of the Center for Health Information and Analysis. Additionally, Geary represents Flare Capital Partners on the Boards of Directors as an investor in numerous healthcare technology and digital health companies. Harvard Medical School  Harvard Medical School (http://hms.harvard.edu) has more than 11,000 faculty working in 10 academic departments located at the School’s Boston campus or in hospital-based clinical departments at 15 Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals and research institutes: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Hebrew SeniorLife, Joslin Diabetes Center, Judge Baker Children’s Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and VA Boston Healthcare System.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

When Elliott, now 19, was a junior in high school, here’s what an average day looked like: He’d wake up at 5:30, shower, get dressed, eat a quick breakfast, and then ride his bike to the bus stop, which was marked by a roughly built wooden hut. Once there, he’d reach up to the roof of the hut, where he’d stashed a bowl and a baggie of marijuana. “I hate school, so I always smoked right before the bus picked me up at 6:20,” Elliott tells Yahoo Beauty. “It calmed me down.” In the afternoon, he’d finish up his homework and then head out onto the back porch to 420, assured that no one other than his single mom would see him, since he lived on a dead-end street. “My mom doesn’t really care,” Elliott says. “She’d rather I smoke than do heroin.” His love affair with weed kicked off on Halloween night in 2014, when Elliott, then 16, lit up for the first time with friends. Although he didn’t feel anything, he was still curious, so he tried it again. And the second time, he got high. “It was pretty great,” Elliott says. “Weed is the best drug because you are in control of yourself and what’s going on.” Elliott claims he hasn’t noticed any negative side effects from marijuana use — and that he could stop anytime he wanted. Meanwhile, there’s Liz, now 18, who started smoking weed regularly at the age of 12 as a coping mechanism, as she puts it, for the upset she felt around her parents’ divorce. “At first I kind of just felt, like, very… relaxed, spacey,” she says. “After a while, after I started using day after day, I kind of just felt more lethargic. No motivation for anything. Very apathetic. And I felt, like, a lot of paranoia along with that.” By her early teens, Liz had developed a pot habit — not to mention an eating disorder and a self-harming problem — severe enough to land her in a residential treatment program, the Newport Academy. “I realized that I had a problem with marijuana when I found that I couldn’t be comfortable when I was sober,” she tells Yahoo, adding that the softening marijuana laws across the country are sending what feels to her like “a mixed message” about the safety of weed. Many Americans feel similarly conflicted about marijuana and its effects on physical and mental health, caught somewhere between Elliott and Liz. According to a new exclusive Yahoo News/Marist Poll, a slight majority of Americans — 51 percent — think using marijuana poses a health risk, while 44 percent think it does not, and 5 percent remain unsure. When it comes to teens, that narrative has begun to shift, due to a series of studies pointing out that the vulnerable, still-developing brains of adolescents do not mix so well with marijuana. But definitive research about how cannabis specifically affects teens still remains frustratingly elusive, as for every study out there suggesting that pot has deleterious effects, another analysis affirms its harmlessness. In fact, the lack of conclusive answers is what triggered the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to recently embark upon a large-scale longitudinal study that will track 10,000 adolescents into early adulthood to look at how use of illicit substances, including marijuana, affects their developing brains and shapes their lives. In the meantime, Yahoo Beauty spoke with top researchers to get as clear a picture as possible of what we do know about weed and the teenage brain. First, a quick synopsis of how marijuana operates: The body’s endocannabinoid system regulates intercellular communication via cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system and brain. “The endocannabinoid system is the master regulator of homeostasis,” Gregory Gerdeman, assistant professor of biology at Eckerd College, tells Yahoo Beauty. “If our electrical system gets too excited, it dampens it down; if cells are moving sluggishly, it speeds things up.” When an individual uses marijuana, its THC molecules attach to these cannabinoid receptors, altering their activity and triggering a blissed-out sensation, as well as potential paranoia and anxiety. (CBD molecules, also found in weed, give users a mellow feeling that counteracts the high and are the main source of marijuana’s medicinal benefits.) Cannabinoids are intimately involved in the growth and development of the brain, guiding the wiring of the neural network. And just as a house under construction is not as solid as a completed building, the teen brain is more sensitive than its adult counterpart. “In this period of critical neural vulnerability, exposure to things like THC can change the trajectory of how the brain develops over time,” Staci Gruber, director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Core at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., tells Yahoo Beauty. Or, as NIDA director Nora Volkow, MD, puts it, the fully grown-up brain has a degree of resiliency that younger brains lack, so “marijuana may have unique, negative effects that may not be present in an adult.” The pothead slacker spacing out in class is a common stereotype. And evidence does suggest that herb might diminish intellectual capacity. “When individuals smoke marijuana, we see changes within the prefrontal cortex, which is a critical part of the brain right behind your eyebrows, responsible for things like decision making, consciousness, and abstract reasoning,” Gruber says. During adolescence, the brain eliminates unneeded neurons so that it can operate more efficiently, in a process called synaptic pruning. “When a child is born, he or she has many more neurons than an adult brain,” Volkow says. “It’s almost like a sculpture, where the artist chips away at the stone until it [forms the desired] shape. [The brain] gets rid of some neurons and creates connections that maximize the functions that a particular child is going to need in order to be successful as an adult.” Marijuana disrupts glutamate receptors, neurotransmitters involved in synaptic pruning; as a result, extraneous neurons may not be effectively phased out and can drag down our cognitive capacity, affecting everything from memory to executive control. Volkow likens it to the operation of an airport. “The more connections you have, the more communication there’s going to be from one place to another. But too many connections clog the system,” she says. “Of course, too few connections also interfere with your ability to transfer people place to place — and studies have shown that people who consume large quantities of marijuana during adolescence have far fewer connections into the hippocampus, which is one of the main brain regions involved with memory and learning.” In particular, says John Kelly, MD, professor of psychiatry in addiction medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Recovery Research Institute, “it can impact memory consolidation, which is the encoding of short-term information into long-term memories. We learn by contextualizing new information and relating it to other memories in our memory bank. If the information hasn’t been properly encoded, we won’t be able to draw upon it as a resource.” Marijuana can also decrease myelin, a protective coating around axons of neurons that increases the speed at which electrochemical impulses travel in the brain. “If you don’t have enough myelin, you may be scatterbrained and suffer from attention problems,” Kelly says. “Basically, you’re on the slow train.” A study from Northwestern Medicine found that young adults who smoked marijuana daily for about three years as teens had an abnormally shaped hippocampus and performed poorly on long-term-memory tasks — two years after they stopped using the drug. Compared with a control group, they scored 18 percent worse on a test of memory processes used for daily problem solving and to sustain friendships. And research out of Duke University linked long-term marijuana use before age 18 to a lasting drop in IQ. At age 38, subjects scored an average of eight points lower compared with their results when they were 13 years old. Yet Gerdeman cautions against jumping to conclusions. “The human brain is a plastic structure that undergoes small morphological changes with time, learning, experience, stress, trauma, meditation, exercise, medication, and yes, cannabis,” he says. “I’m not going to tell you there is no reason to be concerned, but these findings should be viewed with nuance.” He points out that some studies portray a cautionary tale based on brain imaging without showing a corresponding functional deficit, while others fail to control for influential variables like binge drinking. It’s not only intellect that bears the brunt of ganja use at a young age. Research suggests that pot can affect EQ, or emotional intelligence, as much as IQ, thanks to the fact that heavy users have trouble pulling up memories that can inform current decision making. When navigating a relationship or social interaction, “your prefrontal cortex will scan the rest of the brain to see if you have been exposed in the past to a similar situation that can guide you or predict what’s going to happen,” Volkov says. And if someone doesn’t have ready access to that feedback, he or she is at a disadvantage. What’s more, brain-imaging research has shown that THC targets the prefrontal cortex, the area associated with emotional regulation and social skills. “The prefrontal cortex is the brain’s brake system; it triggers us to look before we leap,” Kelly says. “Inadequate synaptic pruning in this region can increase impulsivity and disinhibition.” When a person’s prefrontal cortex isn’t operating at its optimal level, he or she might react inappropriately, from losing his or her temper at a friend to engaging in unprotected sex. On the other hand, research from the University of Kentucky, Lexington supports Elliott’s experience: Lonely teens who hit herb had higher levels of self-worth, better mental health, and a lower risk of depression than those who abstained. It may reek of reefer madness, but some of the most alarming research points at a link between marijuana use and psychosis. According to a recent paper published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, daily pot use in teens can increase the risk of psychosis from 1 percent to 3 percent. And a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that for each year that adolescent males engaged in regular marijuana use, their chances of experiencing psychotic symptoms surged by 21 percent, even a year after they’d stopped using the drug. “Some people may have a genetic propensity for mental illness like schizophrenia that only manifests under certain conditions,” Kelly says. “In these individuals, chronic exposure to THC over time might trigger a switch that turns on the genes that promote psychosis.” Again, there’s debate about whether weed is truly at fault. A Harvard study failed to find a causal link between schizophrenia and cannabis use, suggesting instead that family history was the deciding factor; and a review in the journal Schizophrenia Research revealed that although cannabis use is increasing in the U.K., rates of schizophrenia and psychosis are falling. There’s also the chicken-and-egg question — people prone to psychiatric disorders might be more likely to turn to substances in the first place. Although the matter is still up for debate, Gerdeman has found that “teens with preexisting signs of psychotic tendencies or genetic predispositions who go on to use cannabis heavily are at a greater risk of developing schizophrenia.” Is It Addictive or Not? While it’s true that pot’s got nothing on harder drugs like heroin and cocaine, some people do get hooked — and the risk is greater for teens. “Approximately 9 percent of individuals who are exposed to marijuana will become addicted, but if you take marijuana as a teenager, it goes up to 19 percent,” Volkov says. “And 50 percent of teens that use marijuana on a daily basis will become addicted.” Marijuana activates a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which is a key player in the brain’s reward circuitry, and this can lead to a dependency. “The earlier a person’s brain is exposed to chemical substances, the likelier it is to become sensitized to them,” Kelly says. “When you prime the pump during adolescence, the neurons become adapted to the drug and are altered in such a way that they start to expect its presence.” While the jury is out on how harmful marijuana actually is for adolescents, the majority of researchers agree that the two biggest risk factors are the age of the onset of use and the frequency of use. Basically, the younger someone starts burning one down and the more often they get blazed, the greater the potential harm in terms of brain damage, mental illness, and addiction. As Gruber says, the message for teens should be, “Just say no for now. It’s worth the wait.” As for Elliott and Liz, they both report that they’re doing well, although their relationship with weed is very different. Elliott, now a host at a high-end restaurant, still wakes and bakes. “I could quit any day if I wanted to, but I don’t want to,” he says. “Parents are so hard on their kids about it, but it’s not a terrible thing.” Liz, on the other hand, has steered clear of marijuana since rehab and is focused on graduating from high school. “That’s a really big thing that I never thought I would do,” she says. “I’m thrilled about my future … and I have more faith in myself … and can advocate for myself in ways I couldn’t before. … I don’t need to use marijuana in order to be the person that I want to be. I can just be that person authentically.” Read more from the Yahoo Weed & the American Family series: Americans families defending pot as never before, Yahoo News/Marist Poll finds How Republicans and Democrats in Congress are joining forces to defeat Sessions’ war on weed Cannabis advocate Melissa Etheridge: ‘I’d much rather have a smoke with my grown kids than a drink’ These mothers of suicides don’t think marijuana is harmless ‘Cannabis has made me a better parent’: One mom’s confession Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day. For Twitter updates, follow @YahooStyle and@YahooBeauty.


News Article | May 4, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Already extolled for their health benefits as a food compound, omega-3 fatty acids now appear to also play a critical role in preserving the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which protects the central nervous system from blood-borne bacteria, toxins and other pathogens, according to new research from Harvard Medical School. Reporting in the May 3 issue of Neuron, a team led by Chenghua Gu, associate professor of neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, describes the first molecular explanation for how the barrier remains closed by suppressing transcytosis--a process for transporting molecules across cells in vesicles, or small bubbles. They found that the formation of these vesicles is inhibited by the lipid composition of blood vessel cells in the central nervous system, which involves a balance between omega-3 fatty acids and other lipids maintained by the lipid transport protein Mfsd2a. While the blood-brain barrier is a critical evolutionary mechanism that protects the central nervous system from harm, it also represents a major hurdle for delivering therapeutic compounds into the brain. Blocking the activity of Mfsd2a may be a strategy for getting drugs across the barrier and into the brain to treat a range of disorders such as brain cancer, stroke and Alzheimer's. "This study presents the first clear molecular mechanism for how low rates of transcytosis are achieved in central nervous system blood vessels to ensure the impermeable nature of the blood-brain barrier," Gu said. "There is still a lot we do not know about how the barrier is regulated. A better understanding of the mechanisms will allow us to begin to manipulate it, with the goal of getting therapeutics into the brain safely and effectively." The blood-brain barrier is composed of a network of endothelial cells that line blood vessels in the central nervous system. These cells are connected by tight junctions that prevent most molecules from passing between them, including many drugs that target brain diseases. In a 2014 study published in Nature, Gu and colleagues discovered that a gene and the protein it encodes, Mfsd2a, inhibits transcytosis and is critical for maintaining the blood-brain barrier. Mice that lacked Mfsd2a, which is found only in endothelial cells in the central nervous system, had higher rates of vesicle formation and leaky barriers, despite having normal tight junctions. In the current study, Gu, Benjamin Andreone, a neurology student at Harvard Medical School, and their colleagues examined how Mfsd2a maintains the blood-brain barrier. Mfsd2a is a transporter protein that moves lipids containing DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil and nuts, into the cell membrane. To test the importance of this function to the barrier, the team created mice with a mutated form of Mfsd2a, in which a single amino acid substitution shut down its ability to transport DHA. They injected these mice with a fluorescent dye and observed leaky blood-brain barriers and higher rates of vesicle formation and transcytosis--mirroring mice that completely lacked Mfsd2a. A comparison of the lipid composition of endothelial cells in brain capillaries against those in lung capillaries--which do not have barrier properties and do not express Mfsd2a--revealed that brain endothelial cells had around two- to five-fold higher levels of DHA-containing lipids. Additional experiments revealed that Mfsd2a suppresses transcytosis by inhibiting the formation of caveolae--a type of vesicle that forms when a small segment of the cell membrane pinches in on itself. As expected, mice with normal Cav-1, a protein required for caveolae formation, and that lacked Mfsd2a exhibited higher transcytosis and leaky barriers. Mice that lacked both Mfsd2a and Cav-1, however, had low transcytosis and impermeable blood-brain barriers. "We think that by incorporating DHA into the membrane, Mfsd2a is fundamentally changing the composition of the membrane and making it unfavorable for the formation of these specific type of caveolae," Andreone said. "Even though we observed low rates of vesicle formation and transcytosis in blood-brain barrier cells decades ago, this is the first time that a cellular mechanism can explain this phenomenon." By revealing the role of Mfsd2a and how it controls transcytosis in the central nervous system, Gu and her colleagues hope to shed light on new strategies to open the barrier and allow drugs to enter and remain in the brain. They are currently testing the efficacy of an antibody that potentially can temporarily block the function of Msfd2a, and whether caveolae-mediated transcytosis can be leveraged to shuttle therapeutics across the barrier. "Many of the drugs that could be effective against diseases of the brain have a hard time crossing the blood-brain barrier," Gu said. "Suppressing Mfsd2a may be an additional strategy that allows us to increase transcytosis, and deliver cargo such as antibodies against beta-amyloid or compounds that selectively attack tumor cells. If we can find a way across the barrier, the impact would be enormous." This work was supported by The National Institutes of Health (grants F31NS090669, NS092473), the Mahoney postdoctoral fellowship, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Kaneb Fellowship, Fidelity Biosciences Research Initiative and the Harvard Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator. Harvard Medical School has more than 11,000 faculty working in 10 academic departments located at the School's Boston campus or in hospital-based clinical departments at 15 Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals and research institutes: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Hebrew SeniorLife, Joslin Diabetes Center, Judge Baker Children's Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and VA Boston Healthcare System.


News Article | May 1, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Publicity Club of New England is thrilled to announce the finalists of the 2017 Bell Ringer Awards. Following a submission period that included an impressive number of data-driven, head-turning entries, and a rigorous judging panel comprised of industry leaders, the Publicity Club looks forward to celebrating the winners at the 49th annual awards ceremony on June 1. “Our finalists reflect the top talent and innovation that characterizes Boston’s PR and marketing industry,” said Cheryl Gale, Publicity Club president and managing director of March Communications. “This year’s finalists are standouts in digital, experiential, and more – and they share the common thread of driving business results and brand equity for their clients, teams, or partners.” This year, the Bell Ringers event will be returning to the Revere Hotel’s Liberty Hall in Boston. An evening of merriment and reflection on New England’s best PR and marketing campaigns and initiatives of the year, the celebration is a long-standing tradition that is open to all industry professionals. This year’s event will feature a delicious family-style dinner and complimentary wine with the meal. The always-popular cocktail hour and awards presentation will feature new and exciting additions as well. This year’s host will be Josh Brogadir, anchor and reporter for WCVB, Boston’s ABC affiliate. Brogadir is a bilingual news reporter, sports anchor, and play-by-play broadcaster with more than a decade of experience on-screen. The Publicity Club’s board of directors is thrilled to have him and his many talents lined up for the ceremony. Tickets and full tables of different sizes and variations are available to purchase here. Single seats for Publicity Club members are available at $125. Non-members may purchase single seats for $150. Full tables of six, eight, and 16 are available for purchase, and special packages are available for purchasing more than one table. The 2017 Bell Ringer Award Finalists Include: 360PR+ Adams & Knight Adam Ritchie Brand Direction Agency 451 Boston University PRLab Boston Children's Hospital Brodeur Partners C + C East Cone Communications CTP Cronin & Company Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Duffy & Shanley Food Truck Festivals of America Harvard Medical School Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Hollywood Public Relations InkHouse JaiCG John Guilfoil Public Relations LEWIS Lois Paul & Partners March Communications Massachusetts Dental Society Matter Communications McLean Hospital MSLGROUP MassHousing May Institute PAN Communications Porter Novelli Racepoint Global Rainier Communications Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems RF | Binder Rinck Advertising SHIFT Communications TEXT100 Thomson Communications Version 2.0 Communications W2O Group Wayfair WE Worldwide About the Publicity Club of New England Founded in 1949, The Publicity Club of New England is the region’s oldest not-for-profit public relations trade organization. The Publicity Club strives to promote and encourage involvement in the communications industry and specifically the professions of public relations, promotions, and marketing. Additional information about monthly Publicity Club programs, social and networking events, the “Bell Ringer” blog, and the Bell Ringer Awards ceremony, can be found at www.pubclub.org. Follow us on Twitter @PubClubofNE (#pcne).

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