The 2nd Brainstorming Research Assembly for Young Neuroscientists - BraYn, which will be held in Milan, Italy, from 14th to 16th of November 2019, is inspired and organized by researchers under the age of 40 from different backgrounds and with different scientific approaches. The meeting aims establish connections between the future protagonists of Italian neuroscience.
I believe that there is at least one moment (to say the least) in the life of a scientist in which he thought to his data as a sort of superposition between "statistically significant" and something more like "well... there's definitelly a trend there", the latter definition often used when the difference observed in the data sets didn't reach the statistical threshold to be deemed "non-casual". When the second case occurs, the only conclusion is that the two (or more) mean values belong to samples of the same population that happened to be different only by sheer chance, and not due to our experimental hypothesis. Usually, in bio-medical sciences, this threshold is represented by alpha=0.05 and, quite unfortunately it has gradually become the magical door that divides undignified results from striking discoveries -some sort of holy grail of scientific literature, and has transformed several scientifical endeavors in trivial search for a p-value that was lower of 0.05. Things, however, might be mature enough for a "surgical strike on thoughtless testing of statistical significance".
Just a few days ago, the Cambridge team led by Ravindra Gupta announced that they had been able to eliminate HIV virus in a patient that had received a bone marrow transplant from a donor that carried two mutated copies of CCR5 -a mutation that occurs in around 1% of european descent- that confers HIV immunity to the host. The treated patient stopped taking antiretroviral drugs in the past 18 months after the transplant and, quite importantly, represents the second case of succesful HIV-treating transplant in recent years, the first having been reported in 2009. Interestingly, the idea behind a stem cell-based treatment came, for both patients, from the necessity of a bone marrow transplant as a treatment for a blood cancer that did not respond to chemotherapy; however, rather than chosing any compatible donor, Dr. Gupta opted for a patient with a double mutation for CCR5.
"Our most popular course covers the major topics in cellular and molecular immunology, including innate immunity, B cells, T cells, dendritic cells, cytokines and mucosal immunity. Other lectures cover autoimmune, allergic and immunodeficiency diseases, as well as new advances in interventional and clinical immunology and the molecular and genetic basis of immunologically-mediated diseases. All lecturers encourage interaction with the students through questions and discussions during lecture time. There is also ample opportunity for students to interact with the faculty outside the lecture room."
Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is quite possibly the most widely used animal model for multiple sclerosis (MS) and has shed light on several immunopathogenic processes that lead to this disease. On the other hand, grey matter degeneration -a crucial hallmark of the human MS- has always represented an elusive element in this model as EAE mice do not present grey matter damage, mostly due to the fact that the induction of the pathology is obtained mostly by triggering an immune reaction against myelin. Considering the emerging importance of this kind of lesion in MS, Dmitri Lodygin and colleagues sought to define a pathophisiologic process that underlied grey matter lesion.
Presso il Laboratorio di Neuroimmunologia del Centro Europeo di Ricerca sul Cervello (Fondazione Santa Lucia, Roma), diretto dalla Dott.ssa Giovanna Borsellino, è disponibile una borsa di studio per un/a neolaureato/a (Laurea Magistrale). 12 mesi prorogabili.
Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) is a pivotal protein that belongs to PAS [PER (periodic circadian protein)-ARNT(AHR nuclear translocator)-SIM (single-minded protein)] domain-containing receptor superfamily. This group of proteins play a central role in regulating cellular homeostasis by sensing endogenous (e.g. redox status and oxygen partial pressure) and exogenous stimuli (e.g. toxic aromatic hydrocarbons), and AHR, in particular, is recently emerging as an important gear of the machinery that regulates inflammation in the gut-brain axis (see here). The endogenous ligands for AHR include, mostly, triptophan derivatives which are either produced by endogenous metabolic pathways or by the commensal microbiota, which -on the other hand- can also produce other distinct molecules that possess AHR agonistic activity and are involved in a series of immunoregolatory functions (e.g. they can limit intestinal inflammation).
The dire situation that UK scientific community has been fearing in these last two years is, quite probably, one of the consequences that people voting for brexit in 2016 failed to consider. Brexit, and in particular the catastrophic perspective of a no-deal exit from the EU - which last 15 january became more likely as the UK parliament fiercely rejected the last negotiations - would not only leave UK science without arrangements on european fundings (e.g. H2020), but would also have more direct consequences until new immigration rules are properly discussed (40% of the scientific workforce comes from other EU nations, as stated by Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute in London). With this scenario in mind, UK scientists are starting to elaborate possible contingency plans in the event of a hard brexit.