neuroscience

New strategies for unclogging microcirculatory obstructions in the healthy and diabetic brain

Recent work from our laboratory has shown that the brain capillaries routinely get 'stuck,' clogged by cells and debris even under healthy conditions. Most of these clogged capillaries clear within seconds to minutes, however, some can remain stuck for much longer. We also reported that about one third of these clogged capillaries were eliminated from the blood vessel network and never get replaced. Importantly, there are certain conditions which can increase the risk of clogged blood vessels in the brain such as diabetes.

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2019

Investigating the Role of MicroRNAs on Granule Cell Development during Mouse Cerebellar Development

The cerebellum is a complex region of our brain involved in the coordination of our movements and cognition. Evidence shows that cerebellum is involved in several brain disorders such as ataxia (inability to move properly), autism, and medulloblastoma (the most prevalent brain tumor in children). The cerebellum is made of different cell types. Among them, the most numerous cell type, the granule cells, contribute to many crucial cerebellar functions. Indeed, an uncontrolled division of granule cells results in the most common form of pediatric brain tumor, the medulloblastoma.

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2019

Development of a novel intranasal oligonucleotide delivery approach for Huntington disease

Huntington disease (HD) is a progressive brain disorder affecting movement, mood, and cognitive skills, caused by inheriting a mutated copy of the huntingtin gene. This results in the production of a mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) that is toxic to critical nerve cells in the brain. Reducing mHTT using specialized pieces of DNA, called antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs), should slow or prevent disease onset.

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2019

Balancing act: Measuring and optimizing the challenge point in rehabilitation to improve walking balance after stroke

Up to 73% of people who are able to walk post-stroke suffer a fall, commonly within the first few months after discharge home. Optimizing the approach to rehabilitation of walking balance remains vital to long-term outcomes post-stroke.  A fall poses a significant risk of injury and erodes confidence. The loss in confidence alone can lead to decreased activity levels, loss of independence and social isolation that affect quality of life and overall health, even hastening death.

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2019

Propagated protein misfolding of SOD1 in ALS: Exemplar for neurodegeneration

MSFHR supported Dr. Neil Cashman’s award as one of two interprovincial teams from across Canada funded through Brain Canada’s Multi-Investigator Research Initiative (MIRI) in 2013. The MIRI supports the research of multidisciplinary teams and aims to accelerate novel and transformative research that will fundamentally change the understanding of nervous system function and dysfunction and its impact on health. MSFHR committed funding over three years to support the work of Cashman’s BC-based research activities and research led by fellow MIRI recipient Dr.

Primary Investigator: 
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2013

High-throughput automated mouse model to pilot translational brain stimulation during recovery from stroke

There are 62,000 strokes in Canada each year–one every nine minutes–and 405,000 Canadians are living with the effects of stroke. Stroke rehabilitation is a large field with a need for further research and treatment development.

Dr. Balbi will investigate brain stimulation and movement-based stroke rehabilitation by studying brain activity and forelimb movement in mice stroke models.

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2018

Re-establishing cognitive function in models of mental illness by boosting neural activity in the prefrontal cortex

The frontal cortex (FC) of the brain plays a critical role in higher cognitive functions including attention, working memory, and planning future goal-directed actions. Cognitive deficits arising from deceased neural activity within the FC (hypofrontality) are features of many forms of mental illness, including schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, dementia and addiction. Neurochemical, physiological and pharmacological research implicates reductions in the function of key neurotransmitter systems: catecholamines, glutamate and GABA.

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2018

Locally produced brain insulin in memory and Alzheimer's disease: A multi-disciplinary approach to a key question

Dr. James Johnson is one of five BC researchers leading teams supported through the British Columbia Alzheimer’s Research Award. Established in 2013 by the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), Genome British Columbia (Genome BC), The Pacific Alzheimer Research Foundation (PARF) and Brain Canada, the goal of the $7.5 million fund is to discover the causes of and seek innovative treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

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2015

Imaging repair: Developing and applying unconventional neuroimaging methods for quantitative assessment of tissue health

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a powerful tool for measuring changes in the brain and spinal cord that occur over the course of neurological disease. Unfortunately, conventional MRI is qualitative, so the biological cause of the changes seen on MRI is difficult to determine.

Damage to myelin, the substance that surrounds the nerve fibres (axons) of the brain and spinal cord to speed up signal transmission and protect the axons themselves, is a common feature for many neurological diseases. While myelin can be repaired, axonal damage is irreversible.

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2018

Near infrared spectroscopy for the hemodynamic monitoring of acute spinal cord injury

One of the only treatments that could potentially improve paralysis in patients who have suffered an acute traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) is the elevation of the mean arterial blood pressure (MAP) to provide enough blood supply to the injured spinal cord. It is, however, difficult to know what the MAP target should be for a given patient to optimize their neurologic recovery. 

Primary Investigator: 
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2017

Evaluation of the role of FRMP on BDNF expression and signaling

Fragile-X syndrome (FXS) is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability and is the best characterized form of autism spectrum disorder. This genetic condition is caused by a mutation in the FMR1 gene, leading to the functional loss of FMR1 protein (FMRP). Besides being important for neuronal development, this protein also exerts a strong influence on synaptic plasticity. As a matter of fact, FMRP is highly expressed in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus, one of the few regions of the adult brain where the birth of new neurons takes place. 

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2017

The role of the norepinephrine system in emotionally-biased attention and learning

Individuals vary widely in the aspects of the world they perceive and remember: some filter their environments through rose coloured glasses to perceive sources of pleasure, while others are attuned to signs of threat. Such affective biases in attention influence memory and characterize mood disorders and pathological responses to trauma as well as addictive behaviours. Yet much remains to be learned about neural mechanisms underlying such biases, and the factors that influence their development and potential for change.

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2017
Health Category: 

Investigating a novel target for cerebral edema during stroke

Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research/Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award

Primary Investigator: 
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2015

Using aerobic exercise to enhance motor learning and cortical excitability after stroke

The severity of motor impairments due to stroke vary markedly in different people, and with therapy, a degree of recovery is possible. Understanding the underlying neural mechanisms supporting motor recovery from stroke would inform development of more effective therapies.

Primary Investigator: 
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Year: 
2015

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