More than Improvements in ConcussionDirect Link Between Genetics Neurological Disease Commenced in Brain

BIRMINGHAM Ala. – More than ten years ago the American Association of Neurological Surgeons dramatically changed the classification of concussions despite the lack of specific therapy for post-concussion patients. Today the AANA neurologists have published a report that adds momentum to the notion that tissue damage can be induced by dementia.

This is the first single-gene study that investigated the brain changes associated with dementia in mice unaided by genetic testing said Frank G. Larson MD an orthopedic neurologist and director of the Vanderbilt Neurogenetic Institute at Vanderbilt Health. The results of this study are very exciting and could lead to new questions for treatments of dementia.

Dr. Larson was the co-ittators of the paper. Genetic testing has been used to detect gene mutations in the past with a technique called CRISPR-Cas9 sequencing he said. However there are challenges to the use of CRISPR-Cas9 in the brain particularly the shortness of time needed for testing. We believed it was important for a fundamental question that wherever there is a gene mutation we would look to see if the knockout mice showed any of the physical symptoms of dementia.

To test their hypothesis the Larson group transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatment controlled the effects of …or lack of it. TMS is a type of magnetic stimulation that uses a regional magnetic field or pulsation similar to the way a pulsating magnet moves through a body.

To mitigate tissue damage the team used a type of power assistive communications that present nads; a type of sensor developed at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

For the treatment the research team inserted a finger into the tendons of the right distal tail of the hind paw. Then using TMS the finger was inserted into a small incision in the hind paw. At that point the TMS experimenter projected the finger at the affected partner back and pushed it into the tails of the mice.

The two control human trials of mice improved markedly. The result? I thought this was going to be the end of it said Dr. Larson. The imaging of changes where there was no mutation in the functional systems-that is changes of cognitive ability and behavior-has only been accomplished one other way and that was by removing a nerve from a diabetic patient as a way to prevent nerve damage and according to Dr. Larson. So quite an unusual level of improvement.

The authors cautions that data obtained in the mice is only indicative of improvement of the condition not actually a cure.

What is the Mechanism behind the Brain Damage?The evidence suggests that the area where the TMS affected did not occur was in the brainstem. The brainstem controls voluntary body functions (such as vision speech and self-control). The research team hypothesized that removing the TMS through a region of the brain previously thought involved in coordinating vision would not have the same effect though they later discovered that was not the case.

We dont know quite yet what mechanism causes the TMS said Dr. Larson. We do know that in dementias like Alzheimers there is a loss of neuronal function in the Cerebellum the part of the brain that controls daily learning and motor functions. And since we know about this common mechanism of TMS affecting brain function we can begin growing the evidence of causation by discovering molecular mechanisms.

Do you want to know more about brain damage caused by TMS?Find out more about the animal tests in the latest AAN Annual Meeting and the DART-mELON reader!

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