Posts Tagged: neurology

Lasers, key to unlocking memory

Lasers, key to unlocking memory

New method uses near infrared light to shed light on memory loss conditions Researchers at Hiroshima University have developed a new laser activated technique for bridging missing links in memory flow. The brainchild of Professor Manabu Abe of Hiroshima Universities Department of Chemistry, it aims to open up the mysterious world of neurotransmission – increasing our understanding of the mechanisms involved and potentially leading to treatments for memory loss conditions.   Gaps in our understanding Memory involves the successful flow of neurotransmitters from neuron to neuron. When memory breaks down, we know there must be a gap in this flow but we currently don’t know where to start in terms… Read more

The tortoise and the hare of spinal neural circuits

The tortoise and the hare of spinal neural circuits

After an injury, practicing movements at different speeds improves certain nerve functions Changes in one circuit of nerves, but not another, in the spinal cord depend on how quickly muscles must move to complete a task, according to results from the Human Motor Control Laboratory of Professor Kozo Funase, PhD, at Hiroshima University.  The results could influence physical therapy routines for patients struggling to control their bodies after a stroke or spine injury. Multiple different types of circuits of nerves control the communication between motor and sensory nerves in the spine.  One, called presynaptic inhibition, works like a gate to control incoming sensory information and prevents muscle spasms.  Another, called… Read more

New targets for reducing nerve pain identified

New targets for reducing nerve pain identified

A specific molecule involved in maintaining pain after a nerve injury has been identified and blocked in mice by Hiroshima University researchers.  These results reveal a promising therapeutic strategy for treating neuropathic pain. Mice with an injury to their sciatic nerve showed less pain after multiple injections of a drug that blocks the activity of a molecule called high-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1).  Researchers also discovered that a single dose of a drug to block the activity of a different molecule, called matrix metalloprotease-9 (MMP-9), could also alleviate pain from the injury. The chemical pathways that these drugs use to inhibit HMGB1 or MMP-9 are different from common pain relievers, like… Read more

New molecular mechanism of neuropathic pain in mice

New molecular mechanism of neuropathic pain in mice

  The downregulation of spinal astrocyte connexin43 (Cx43) expression causes sustained neuropathic pain following peripheral nerve injury. The inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF) mediates the downregulation of Cx43 expression, which leads to decreased expression of the glutamate transporter GLT-1 and enhanced glutamatergic neurotransmission. Targeting the recovery of Cx43 function using pharmacological approaches or gene therapy might serve as novel therapeutic strategies ameliorate neurological disorders in general and neuropathic pain in particular. Spinal cord astrocytes are critical in the maintenance of neuropathic pain. Cx43 expressed on spinal dorsal horn astrocytes modulates synaptic neurotransmission, but its role in nociceptive transduction has yet to be fully elaborated. Several types of Cx have… Read more