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PATHS helps students from underrepresented backgrounds realize med school dreams

Nelson Perez Catalan discovered he was interested in pursuing science while working at a student job at the University of Oregon cleaning glass in the labs. He found himself drawn to research around the brain, and thought about pursuing an MD/PhD, but there was no medical school at his university and as a transplant from Chile, he says much of the U.S. college process was mystifying to him. Then he learned about PATHS, or Program to Advance Training in Health and Sciences at Yale School of Medicine.

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  • The Departments of Anesthesiology and Neurology Host: “Perivascular Spaces in the Brain & Contributions to Pathology of Cerebral Small Vessel Disease” on March 24

    The purpose of this Yale mini-symposium is to highlight the huge unmet clinical need to understand the pathophysiology of small vessel disease to inform future therapeutic efforts to reduce the burden of this illness due to cognitive impairment and dementia. In particular the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie diffuse white matter disease and small vessel disease in the brain, the relationships between them, and how they may contribute to cognitive impairment and dementia.

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  • Brain’s ‘insulation’ continues to form throughout life

    Myelin acts as insulation for millions of brain cells, allowing for swift and efficient transmission of signals across brain regions. Despite its crucial role, little is known about how stable this structure is in the adult brain and what impact aging has on its maintenance. Yale neurologists Robert Hill, Alice Li, and Jaime Grutzendler devised techniques to track and precisely image myelin throughout the lifetime of the mouse. They discovered that myelin continues to form and restructure in the adult brain — indicating the potential for lifelong change. They also learned that during aging, myelin begins to deteriorate and myelin debris accumulate over time.

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  • Barrier Function: TREM2 Helps Microglia to Compact Amyloid Plaques

    New research bolsters the case that brain-derived microglia need TREM2 to essentially wall off amyloid plaques, but exactly how they do that remains up for debate. As reported in the May 18 Neuron, scientists led by Jaime Grutzendler at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, used confocal and super-resolution microscopy to show that TREM2-positive microglia surround and encase amyloid fibrils, protecting neurons in the process. Yet TREM2 itself appears to lend little support to phagocytosis of Aβ. The technical caliber of the work and the quality of the microscopy led researchers in the AD field to call the study “stunning.” It comes on the heels of another paper, in the April 18 Journal of Experimental Medicine, which suggests the microglia that surround plaques are brain-derived, not peripheral myeloid cells as others had suggested previously.

    Source: Barrier Function: TREM2 Helps Microglia to Compact Amyloid Plaques
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  • Immune cells may act as ‘trash compactors, protecting against Alzheimer’s

    In the battle against Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation may be an ally, not a foe, a new study has found. Immune cells in the brain previously blamed for Alzheimer’s actually protect against the disease by corralling the damage-causing amyloid plaques, according to the Yale University study, published Wednesday in the journal Neuron. The findings suggest that inflammation byproducts of these immune cells, known as microglia, probably don’t cause ­Alzheimer’s, nor are they as effective as previously believed at “gobbling up” the plaques, both of which have been hypothesized, said Jaime Grutzendler,associate professor of neurology and neuroscience and the study’s lead author. Rather, he said, the cells act as a physicalbarrier that encloses the spiky plaques, preventing outward expansion and making them less toxic. “They’re sort of like garbage compactors,” he said. “They tightly surround the plaques and make them inert and less damaging . . . by creating a capsule.”

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  • Plaque Attack - Howard Hughes Medical Institute picture of the week

    An amyloid plaque (in purple) is surrounded by branches of damaged neurons (multiple colors) in the brain of a mouse with Alzheimer’s disease. The mouse brain tissue was labeled with specific dyes that reveal damaged neurons and amyloid plaques, fixed and then sliced into 30-micron thick sections. The image was collected using a confocal microscope. The dystrophic axons were color-coded for depth in the Z-axis and the amyloid plaque was colored purple. The image is 60x60 microns and projected through 20 microns in depth.

    Source: Plaque Attack
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  • Research in the news: Hyperactive neurons may be culprit in Alzheimer’s

    A long-term reduction in neuronal activity reduces amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Yale University researchers have found. The study, using mouse models of Alzheimer’s, found the opposite is also true — triggering an increase in neuronal activity spurs creation of plaques and toxic amyloid beta peptides believed to trigger the disease.

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