President Obama’s Investment In Neuroscience Research

NeurosciencePresident Obama will be investing $100 million in 2014 to the new neuroscience research initiative named Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies also called “Brain”. Supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation, this brain-mapping project will focus on finding new technologies, which will give a better picture of the interactions between millions of brain cells in order to process a tremendous amount of information. We asked our Zintro experts how this initiative would help scientists find better treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury and autism.

Fabio Bianco, an expert in medical biotechnology, is very thrilled about President Obama’s plan since it addresses intercellular crosstalk, which is the main unanswered question of modern neuroscience. “Neurodegenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s involve activation of immune mechanisms and inflammation. Recent findings have revealed that the functional interaction between astrocytes, microglia and neurons play a key role in the onset of the neurodegenerative diseases,” Bianco explains. “In spite of the evidence indicating that chronic inflammation might influence the pathogenesis of degenerative diseases, these inflammatory pathways are experimentally difficult to study, remain cryptic, the major mediators unknown and the sequential flux of molecular information among the different cell types still undefined.” Moreover, Bianco believes that the Obama plan will be an important step in elucidating how the interactions between different brain cells lead to neurodegeneration. “NeuroZone srl, the biotech company of which I am CEO, is strongly concerned with these issues and together with IBM, we have recently developed a multiparametric microfluidic solution for unfolding cell-cell communication in complex neuroinflammatory scenarios. We have recently published an initial work examining the role of astrocytes derived from two different brain regions, cortex and hippocampus, on neuronal viability in two types of neuroinflammatory insults, namely metabolic stress and exposure to amyloid beta fibrils, and demonstrated regional differences in glial control of neuronal physiopathology,” he adds. “I believe this plan focused on understanding crosstalk in brain pathophysiological context is going to be crucial in unraveling how different cell types of the brain contribute to the crosstalk events leading to neurodegeneration.”

By Idil Kan


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