Nov 16, 2018 Last Updated 12:40 PM, Nov 9, 2018
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Starting (and hopefully, ending) a PhD studentship is undoubtedly a thrilling -though demanding- task that is meant to teach students to cope with the hard work that is at the base of a research job. As someone new to several different duties -often performed at the same time- a PhD student can underestimate the magnitude of his tasks, and be overwhelmed by them.

Disfunctions of the gut-brain axis are increasingly emerging as an important factor in several pathologies, including neurodegenerative ones. These alterations are able to act on peripheral and central nervous system by disrupting physiological, immune and inflammatory. In particular, functional alterations in the gut have been linked, in the past, to the pathogenesis and prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease (PD), in which misfolded alpha-synuclein accumulates in the brain resulting, eventually, in the neuronal loss at the substantia nigra that is the basis of the motor impairment of this condition. Rather curiously, gastrointestinal alterations represent a quite common and often early symptom in PD, while the prevalence of this disease has been reported to be lower in patients that underwent gut surgical treatments such as partial vagotomy (the partial severing of a portion of the vagal nerve that innervates the gastroenteric tube, performed in the management of peptic ulcer); this led to the yet controversial theory that PD might harbour its seeds in the gut, before climbing its way up to the brain by propagating misfolded alpha-synuclein aggregates through the vagal nerve, in a sort of twisted "telephone game".

Peer reviewing is a pivotal part of scientific publication process, and it's meant to ensure that the data collected by researchers is properly scrutinized to find majour flaws or incoherences in the theory or methodology behind it. Nonetheless, nowaday, scientists receive little -if any- training in this, and most of the ability to analyze and review a scientific paper comes from raw experience. 

The pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS) lays its base on an self-directed attack of the immune system that goes haywire, as it attacks neuron myelin sheets and destroys them. This lack of capacity of the immune system of discriminating self antigens from microbial structures, which in turn unleashes auto-immunity, seems to be based on several factors, including the inheritance of particular HLA genes (HLA-DR15 is responsible, alone, for 60% of the genetic risk in MS), which govern T cell expansion, as well as a tendency of T and B cells to replicate independently of specific and direct antigen exposure. Among other things, an important pathogenetic event seems to be represented by the ability of T and B cells to engage in a HLA-TCR synapse that leads to autoproliferation of both lineages and eventually to IFN-gamma-dependent signals that, in turn, trigger macrophage-dependent myelin damage. In light of this, B and T cell proliferation, represents a central topic of interest in undestanding MS pathogenesis.

Glial cells are present in the brain roughly in an equal proportions to neurons, although such a ratio can vary significantly between different regions. They are central in several homeostatic and developmental aspects of the central nervous system and include oligodendrocytes progenitors and mature oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, and the "immune guests" of the CNS - the microglial cells, all of which display considerable morphological and functional variability, according to several recent investigations. 

Homeopathy has been causing intense debates in Italy in the past years, mainly between its supporters and the scientists and clinicians pointing out its lack of effects in comparison to placebo treatments, at least according to the most recent and influent scientific literature. This was until last september 10th, when Dr Patil and colleagues published, on Scientific Reports a paper reporting the anti-inflammatory and pain-inhibiting effects of an homeopathic preparation in rats.

 

Two days ago, a monday no less, James P Allison and Tasuku Honjo have been abruptly awaken (by their colleagues and relatives, before the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, it would seem) by the greatest new that a scientist could possibly believe to receive on a random day of his or her life:  they had been awarded with the 2018 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine.

The Japan Neuroscience Society is now announcing the call for nominations for the 2019 Joseph Altman Award, and will accept applications from all over the world.

Altman Award Banner

This week, Nature published two news that try to analyse the dire political, social and scientific situation that UK is facing now, six months away from the official exit from European Union. The scenario is far from encouraging and the lack, to date, of a defined agreement between Europe and Britain is, alone, causing trouble among several scientists inside and outside UK.

Microglia, the most abundant brain-resident immune cell, are specialized - highly heterogeneous tissue macrophages that control many functional and developmental features of the central nervous system (CNS). Their homeostatic population comes mostly by yolk sac precursors during embryogenesis and  maintain a rather well-defined transcriptional signature that is maintained by cytokines of the brain environment (e.g. TGF-beta) and other environmental factors (e.g. microbiota); on the other hand, different cohort of cells, displaying a slightly different signature, is represented by perypheral monocyte-derived cells that enter the brain and differentiate in loco. Given the central role played by microglia in CNS homeostasis, these cells have long be connected to the processes that either trigger or avoid neurodegeneration.

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Conferences & Courses

17° Corso CRNI Viva la differenza: sesso e neuroimmunologia

March 7-10, 2018 
Bergamo - Bergamo Science Center

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Encefaliti Autoimmuni e Malattie Demielinizzanti Atipiche

16 febbraio 2018
Aula Magna Giorgio De Sandre
POLICLINICO UNIVERSITARIO G.B. ROSSI - Verona

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JNIInternational Brain Research Organization
Bringing Neuroscience to the World
JNIJournal of Neuroimmunology
Studies on all branches of neurosciences covering both research and clinical problems of neuroscientific interest.

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