Here’s the quick rundown on yesterday’s fascinations! Feel free to comment below and tell me one thing you found intriguing yesterday!
Transplant Patients May Have Unknowingly Stepped into a Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease
I would guess most people’s first exposure to SfN could be summed up in a word as, “wow.” Mine certainly was. But I didn’t have much time to grovel at the largeness and think about its incredibility. We needed to get to our first nanosymposium--Alzheimer’s Disease: Experimental Therapeutics.
I didn’t stay too long, but I did really enjoy Giulio Taglialatela’s 15 min. talk about using a calcineurin inhibitor called FK506 as a potential Alzheimer disease (AD) therapy to reverse one of AD’s defining symptoms, memory deficit. It just so happens FK506 is also a widely prescribed immunosuppressant drug that helps prevent organ rejection in transplant patients. His team acquired data from transplant patients 65 years and older to determine if patients possibly already displaying symptoms of AD before receiving a transplant organ reversed their memory deficit 7 years after taking FK506. Results showed patients 85 years and older seem to have had memory deficit reversal after a 7 year period! Admittedly, Taglialatela said these were exciting results but function as a first insight into this relationship. More research will need to be done.
“Losers Can Become Winners with the help of Optogenetics”
If you didn’t see Sheena Josselyn’s Making, Breaking, & Linking Engrams special lecture yesterday, you missed a good one! She shared recent insights her team and other labs made about engrams (physical memory traces within the brain). Using a rat model she was able to follow the exact neurons of the animal’s auditory fear memory using a booming technique called optogenetics. They were able to show CREB (a protein involved in regulating the transcription of DNA) to be an integral part in memory formation. By genetically modifying light sensitive ion channels in those specific neurons involved in the rat’s fear memory, the team was also able to activate or inhibit those neurons simply with the flip of a light switch. Josselyn was a great speaker that was clear, easy to follow from a student’s perspective. What followed was an explanation of multiple experiments where the team would turn on and off neurons at different times and observe the rat’s fear memory.
The lecture was certainly made more entertaining by her sprinkling in of comedic selfies the lab members took, showing pictures of her daughter making different faces, engaging the audience in a game of “guess the clear organ,” and adding a couple play-on-words such as:
Instead of The Brady Bunch—“The Opto Bunch”
Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Bringing Sexy Back” became “I’m Bringing Memory Back”
Overall, a great first day! There’s a lot to take in and I always feel as if by going to one talk or symposium I’ll miss something profound at another talk or symposium taking place at the same time. Seeing so many individuals pursue specialized aspects of the brain and overall nervous system is inspiring. You want so badly to weave your way into the mesh, make connections, and get to know the community. I would guess the best way to do that is to immerse myself in the jungle of posters and meet scientists face-to-face. Speaking of which, I gotta wrap up this blog and get back to it! Expect the next blog tomorrow morning to be about glial cells and more!
Thanks for reading!
I wanna hear from you! Comment about your thoughts on Day 1. What did you enjoy best? Any advise for Day 2?