UNDERSTANDING THE BRAIN
Institute Pasteur researchers have demonstrated microscopic, real-time imaging of the deepest regions of the brain in a freely moving mouse. They are using it to analyze the expression of Green Fluorescent Protein, the protein at the base of this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
“This advance should have profound impact on the field of neurological research,” said Uwe Maskos, PhD, a lab chief at Institut Pasteur. “Never before have we been able to see the deep reaches of the brain at the cellular level while an animal is moving freely. Gaining understanding of neurological activity throughout the brain is vital to understanding normal brain function, and the kinds of alterations that lead to neurological disorders.
“We now have visual, microscopic access to the living, working brain that we’ve never had before. We can now bridge the gap between processes at the cellular, organ and animal level.”
Maskos and his team, headed by Arnaud Cressant, collaborated with Mauna Kea Technologies, a Paris-based medical device company, to create a portable, easy-touse prototype cannula system to guide a tiny fiberoptic camera, Mauna Kea’s Cellvizio probe-based Confocal Laser Endomicroscope, into the mouse’s brain and hold it into place and provide balance. The Cellvizio probe allows physicians to view live tissue inside the body at the cellular level in real time. Maskos presented his findings at the Society for Neuroscience 38th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC last fall.
“We believe (these findings) could alter the research paradigm for understanding and exploring the brain and all the body’s functions linked to neurological activity,” said Sacha Loiseau president, CEO and founder of Mauna Kea Technologies. “Cellvizio has already changed how many gastroenterologists diagnose and treat GI disease. We’re extremely excited to see Cellvizio’s continuing impact on other areas of medicine and science.”
THE ACCIDENTAL ADVOCATE
Jessica Gerstle left her job as a producer for Dateline NBC two years ago to make a documentary about her dad, Dr. Claude Gerstle (below). During a seemingly minor bicycle accident four years ago, his spinal cord was injured and he now uses a wheelchair. In their documentary, The Accidental Advocate, father and daughter travel the country and interview the likes of Michael J. Fox and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as a range of scientists. Their aim is to get stem cell research, which may hold promising possibilities for spinal cord recovery, up and running again. Recently father and daughter were encouraged when President Obama signed an executive order to lift President Bush’s 2001 federal funding ban on embryonic stem cell research. But there is still quite a ways to go before we fully exploit what is possible.
“Hopefully, my film will offer a telescopic lens to bring the issues up close, not just for cures for paralysis, but for therapies in a wide-ranging list of diseases and conditions,” says Jessica.
The Gerstle’s DVD can be purchased for $25 on their website.
HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU
A merican Airlines is partnering with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to create an award honoring the best US television commercials featuring positive portrayals of people with disabilities. The two organizations intend to support and recognize companies efforts to feature people who are disabled in creative and compelling television advertising.
The contest, set to begin in July, is scheduled to run for several weeks. Companies and agencies will be able to submit their commercials, which will be judged by a panel of experts to determine the best of the lot. The final winner will receive a month of free advertising airtime on the American Airlines inflight entertainment system, where tens of thousands of travelers will see it each day.