Science Market Update
|(courtesy of HSC Core Research)|
The Zebrafish may have found their very own fountain of youth, or at least part of their brain has. Neurobiology and Anatomy research professor Richard Dorsky, at the University of Utah, is studying how the Wnt pathway in Zebrafish can grow new nerve cells in the hypothalamus. Researchers have found that Zebrafish can keep on growing new nerve cells even into adulthood. Dorsky's work understanding this mechanism of regeneration in the adult brain could ultimately offer insight into our own neuro-cognitive decline as a result of aging.
In the United States there are approximately 76 million baby boomers, and each year more and more are turning 65 years old. This means that maintaining a healthy functioning brain is becoming a higher and higher priority to a large portion of the population. At this time it seems inevitable that as we age, the normal brain will change physically and cognitively. This year it is estimated it will cost the U.S. $200 billion dollars to care for our 5.4 million Alzheimer’s patients, and the figure is expected to climb higher. In fact, by the year 2050 it is estimated that the cost of Alzheimer’s and other dementias will reach $1.1 trillion dollars. Add the devastating emotional impact on families faced with an elderly parent suffering from the disease, and it's clear why research into neuro-cognitive decline is so important.
It seems that the Dorksy lab is bringing us one step closer to being able to turn back the clock on the human brain. According to Dorsky, "Our research represents a significant contribution to the field because it ... can be used to shed light on the plasticity of the adult brain." Unlike humans, adult Zebrafish have a built in repair system for hypothalamus tissue damage in their brains. The fish’s neural stem cells lie in wait ready to respond to chemical signals of cell damage or death. Part of what makes the Wnt pathway so interesting is that it changes from its embryonic to adulthood. At the embryo stage, Wnt signaling is essentially an on switch that tells the neural stem cells to rapidly grow. This causes the rapid increase of progenitor cells. The progenitor cells arise from neural stem cells. With more development the progenitor cells differentiate into the brain's structures. But this changes in adult Zebrafish when the Wnt pathway becomes radically different.
(courtesy of Dorsky lab)
|(Courtesy of Dorsky lab)|
In a recent article by Dorsky, Wnt signaling regulates postembryonic hypothalamic progenitor differentiation, he describes how his lab research determined how the Wnt pathway in adult zebrafish signals cell regeneration. In adults, the Wnt has to have perfect timing in order for the progenitor cells to grow and differentiate. The Wnt pathway has to first turn on to start the growth and differentiation, then later turn off again to grow properly. It can’t just stay on.
Moreover, the lab studied mice in order to see how the Wnt pathway translates in other animal models. The researcher found that the wnt pathway in mice acts to stop the differentiation of glial cells. Moreover according to Dorsky: "In adult mice, hypothalamic neurogenesis seems to be significant in the regulation of feeding behaviors due to environmental changes."
So, the sooner we can find a cure for Neuro cognitve decline and turn back the time on our aging brain the better we will all be. So, with the help of a little fish, in the future we might be able to grow new neuro tissue in the hypothalamus. Who knew that the Zebrafish light lead us to our own neuro fountain of youth.
Members of the Dorsky lab include:
|(Courtesy of Dorsky lab)|
-Lisa Benko- Graduate Student-Characterization of Multipotent Spinal Cord Progenitors
-Rob Duncan- graduate student- Identification of Neural Stem Cells in the Zebrafish Hypothalamus
-Hyung-Seok Kim-Postdoctoral-Fellow-Tcf3 Targets in Spinal Cord Development
-Adam McPherson-Graduate-Student-Functional Analysis of Post-Embryonic Hypothalamic Neurogenesis
-Xu Wang-graduate student-lab manager- Wnt Signaling and Post-Embryonic Hypothalamic Neurogenesis
The Dorsky lab is part of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy which is located in the Wintrobe building adjacent to the school of medicine. The department occupies 17,000 square feet and has 13 department faculty researching: developmental biology, neuroscience, stem cells and regeneration, and neural disease and repair. The department currently uses several different animal models in its research: mouse, chicken, zebrafish, xenopus, and planaria.
Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. will be holding its 13th Annual Salt Lake BioResearch Product Faire Front Line event next on August 15, 2013. This professional show is an excellent opportunity for life scientists and lab equipment specialists to come together and discuss lab technologies to make every lab run at maximum efficiency. If you are unable to make it to our Utah show, these are other shows you might me interested in attending.
- 02/01/2013 13th Annual Houston BioResearch Product Faire™, located in Houston and situated at the Texas Medical Center.
- 02/06/2013- 8th Annual Mission Bay Biotechnology Vendor Showcase™ located in San Francisco and situated on the UC San Francisco Campus
- 06/20/2013 - 4th Annual Denver BioResearch Product Faire™ at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus.
What comes to mind when you think of LEDs? Most people probably envision a small personal flashlight, or those little lights you put on circuit boards. At the University of Utah, physicists have developed a new type of organic LED that's cheaper, brighter, and more environmentally friendly.
The University of Utah has explored and expoited a number of successful strategies to commercialize its intellectual capital in recent years. Their tech commercialization office is tireless in promoting its proprietary scientific solutions (see last month's blog: Science "Speed Teching" Drives Rapid Commercialization in Utah). But now we're starting to hear about another seriously innovative and fast-moving "laboratory" for cultivating new Salt Lake businesses, and it's a fairly new entity from the U of U's David Eccles School of Business called The Foundry. Instead of creating companies or corporate leaders, the Foundry is a hands-on training program designed to produce entrepreneurs who can identify a successful startup product/business and put together a qualified team to launch and run it.
We've heard for a while now about the aggressive, determined way Utah is working to grow its biotech economy, particularly through advancing university research and commercializing the technology that comes out of it. Since getting private capital interested in university science invention is a major step in making that commercialization happen, the University of Utah Technology Commercialization Office (TCO) has come up with an innovative arena for matching inventors with backers, and it looks a lot like...speed dating. They call it science "speed teching," and the first University Innovators Speed Teching Showcase event took place May 22nd in a large conference room at Salt Lake City's Zions Bank.
Sometimes sacrifices have to be made in the name of progress. In the case of Utah's just-opened USTAR collaborative research building on the Salt Lake City campus of the University of Utah, no one seems to be lamenting the loss of a golf course that used to lie between the Medical School and an engineering complex. Not when the new 208,000sf, $130M, state-of-the-art Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building is there instead, with all of its bright and shiny promise to drive innovation and economic development in the Beehive State.
On October 21, President Obama presented the National Medal of Science awards to the 2011 recipients in a ceremony at the White House. The award program is administered for the White House by the NSF to recognize individuals who have made outstanding lifetime contributions to science and engineering.
Since the approval of the President's Universal Heathcare Measure, researchers at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US Dept. of Health) have been tasked not only with the challenge of clarifying the options of the proposed socialized medicine program, but with marketing health itself. If healthcare is going to be funded from the public coffer, it follows that the public has a certain responsibility not to abuse that privilege with unhealthy behaviors. Put another way, good health is the right thing to do. But how do you convince people of that? A business and healthcare administration professor at the University of Utah Eccles School of Business, Debra Scammon, concludes in a recent paper in the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing titled "Transforming Consumer Health" that the answer is a strong social marketing campaign.
In 1995 Utah chemical industrialist Jon Huntsman donated $151M—$100M directly from family funds—to the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City to create a top-notch cancer center bearing his family's name: The Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). Further contributions over the years brought Huntsman support to $300M. Now the family has made another gift to the Center in the amount of $41M, which HCI says will be used to hire more researchers and acquire new treatment technology.