Foundation Plan Alzheimer Award Win!

New Paper in Science

The Brain Prize

Alzheimer's Disease - clinical trials

New ARUK Grant for CCNS

Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease Paper

NeuroYoga at the Science Festival

Press Coverage of Oliver Hardt Paper

PhD Student Wins Award

New Brain Integrity Study

Solanezumab trial in Alzheimer's Disease

CCNS at the BNA Festival of Neuroscience 2015

Alzhiemer's Research UK Conference

350th Anniversary of Philosophical Transactions

FENS-KAVLI Network of Excellence

Commonwealth Science Conference

Roger Redondo and MIT team publish Nature paper

Branco Weiss Fellowship

PhD Graduation

Abi Herrman viva

Richard Morris elected to EMBO

Richard Morris awarded RSE Medal

Chancellor's Fellow awarded ARUK grant

Richard Morris' Plenary Lecture

Richard Morris awarded Fondation Ipsen Prize for Neuronal Plasticity

Emma Wood at the BNA Christmas Symposium

 

Foundation Plan Alzheimer Award Win!
CCNS PhD student Ellie Pickett won the Foundation Plan Alzheimer Award for the best flash talk at the Euro Tau meeting recently held in Lille. She presented a poster whcih was then chosen for a talk. Congratulations to Ellie on this achievement.


New Paper in Science
Congratulations to CCNS postdoc Kapil Saxena and Professor Richard Morris on their commentary on a new study of social memory in Science this week:  

Social memory goes viral
It is a curious feature of studies of recognition memory that the experimental subjects are almost always tested alone. They may be asked to scan a set of landscape pictures and later recognize having seen them before or to study a set of words or faces. For a social species such as ourselves—and mammals in general—being tested alone is a curious state of affairs. Social memory, social comparisons, and reciprocity have been a major driving force in brain evolution (1), and the effect of social interactions on memory deserves more attention. This experimental lacuna is now being put right, not only in social and evolutionary psychology and in work on “joint attention” by infants and their mothers, but also in animal studies that seek to identify the areas of the brain and the mechanisms mediating recognition of a familiar conspecific. On page 1536 of this issue, Okuyama et al. supplement behavioural analysis with an arsenal of modern viral vector–based, optogenetic, and imaging techniques to examine.


The Brain Prize
Last week, the three Brain Prize winners of 2016 did a couple of events.  One was a very well attended BBC sponsored event at the Royal Institution with Claudia Hammond, to be broadcast in the “All in the Mind” series in November.  The other were three academic presentations, to an equally large audience at the Royal Society, by each of the prize winners of their research.  The photos are of Richard Morris, Tim Bliss and Graham Collinridge, with Terje Lomo who first observed LTP; of Richard lecturing, and of Sir Roger Bannister, the distinguished British neurologist who kindly attended the RS event.  Dr Bannister first secured international attention as the man who first ran a mile in under 4 minutes.  All in all, a great evening.

 

 

Alzheimer's Disease - clinical trials
Prof Richard Morris, Brain Prize winner and founding director of CCNS and Dr Tara Spires-Jones, Interim director of CCNS,  have commented in the media on the latest hopeful phase I clinical trial for Alzheimer’s disease. 

Prof Morris said
“Given the apparent failure of previous attempts to vaccinate against the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, it is perhaps natural for the long awaited results of the Biogen trial to be treated with a degree of caution. However, the study’s ingenious use of an antibody based on neo-epitopes present in pathological Aβ aggregates may have successfully got round some of the problems of earlier attempts to develop an appropriate vaccine. What particularly impressed me about this still preliminary study is the dose-response nature of both the clearance of amyloid plaques and the stabilisation of the otherwise worsening cognitive profile of patients enrolled in the study.
“We cannot yet say we have a cure for Alzheimer's, as this is only a first step.  However, despite being only 165 early-stage patients, these encouraging results will likely help the company enormously to scale up to a full double-blind clinical trial of aducanumab.
“The conclusion that this study supports further development of aducanumab is fully justified and the importance of this first step cannot be understated.. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for success in the next steps.”

Dr Spires-Jones said
"This study led by scientists at pharmaceutical companies Biogen and Neurimmune is exciting because it shows that an antibody treatment for Alzheimer’s disease robustly reduced amyloid pathology in a small group of people in very early stages of the disease.  I am cautiously optimistic about this treatment, but trying not to get too excited because many drugs make it through this early stage of testing then go on to fail in larger trials. This was a small phase 1 study with 20-30 people in each treatment group. We will have to wait and see whether the promising results reported here are repeated in the larger phase 3 trials of this drug that are currently underway worldwide.”

For links to the story, see:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37222863 
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/09/01/alzheimers-new-drug-that-halts-mental-decline-is-best-news-for-d/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07qbfvr&t=1h15m41s
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/alzheimers-disease-dementia-breakthrough-new-drug-scientists-a7218481.html
For more information on  volunteering for dementia research, including the current phase 3 trial of aducanumab, sign up to Join Dementia Research at www.joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk 


New ARUK grant for CCNS
Iris Oren, Tara Spires-Jones and Matthew Nolan (Centre for Integrative Physiology) have been jointly awarded a new pilot project grant from Alzheimer's Research UK. The grant aims to develop new tools for studying the mechanisms by which the pathological protein, tau, spreads through the brain in dementias such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). The tools that they develop will also be made available to the AD research community.


Early Detection of Alzheimer's Disease Paper
Vassilis Beglopoulos, Paul Kelly and Richard Morris, together with colleagues at Janzen in California, published a paper in Nature Communications on 1 June regarding new ways of realising very early detection of cognitive changes in animal models of Alzheimer’s Disease.    The novelty of their approach was to look at a prominent animal model of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) at a very young age when it is widely thought to be “normal”.  Their study confirmed this “normality” but went to show that, using the trick of memory retrieval after a very long delay, a deficit in memory could nonetheless be detected.  Retrieval associated metabolic changes were also observed in the brain that were not observable unless the animals were engaged in the act of memory retrieval at the time they were taken.  Drawing inferences from animal studies is always fraught, but this issue was discussed and taken up in several media reports of the research.

Google news summary link to for reports on this paper.


Neuroyoga: the science of yoga and meditation
Is yoga all in the mind? This was the question that was asked at the sold out Neuroyoga event in the 2016 Edinburgh International Science Festival (jointly sponsored by the Deanery of Biomedical Sciences and Meadowlark Yoga).  The event combined a practical yoga session with a panel discussion between leading neuroscientists who asked whether current neuroscience can explain the effects that yoga has on the body and mind. 
The event was chaired by Dr. Iris Oren, and kicked-off with an introduction to the founding principles of yoga by yoga teacher, Karen Kirkness. This was followed by presentations by three University of Edinburgh neuroscientists whose research is centered on fields in which yoga has been suggested to have benefits. Prof. Megan Holmes reviewed the literature regarding yoga and stress hormones; Prof. Stephen Lawrie discussed the effects of yoga on brain structure and function, while Dr. Richard Chin asked whether yoga has potential as a treatment for epilepsy.
The panel discussion was followed by audience questions, and closed with Karen Kirkness leading a yoga session for the audience and panelists.


Press Coverage of Oliver Hardt Paper
There has been a great deal of media coverage of a new paper on forgetting memories which offers greater understanding of Alzheimers' Disease. Dr Oliver Hardt was one of the authors on this paper on work undertaken in his lab in CCNS. The title of the paper is "Blocking synaptic removal of GluA2-containing AMPA receptors prevents the natural forgetting of long-term memories" and it is published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Links to various reports in the national and international press can be accessed here.


PhD Student Wins Award
The Spanish National Neuroscience Society (SENC) held their 16th congress in the city of Granada on 23-25 of September. CCNS PhD student, Andrea Moreno, was awarded the Fernando de Castro Best Oral Communication Award for her work in Hippocampal-Neocortical connections, which has been developed in Richard Morris’ lab in collaboration with Dr. Santiago Canals (Alicante). In this work they study the functional connectivity between the hippocampus and the neocortex and how this affects memory processes, using electrophysiology and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

The award consists of a set of neuroscience books, an invitation for the closing dinner of the meeting, and an invitation for the next Cajal Winter Conference which is a meeting designed for young neuroscientists to interact with senior scientist in the context of a given topic.

Award certificate Waiting for the award Andrea's presentation


New Brain Integrity Study
The Spires-Jones lab has published a new study examining brain integrity postmortem in a Lothian Birth Cohort 1936 (LBC1936) participant and comparing it to their lifelong cognitive data.    Using cutting edge imaging techniques, the study showed a remarkable degree of structural and molecular preservation of synapses in the LBC1936 participant compared to a person who had Alzheimer's disease, highlighting the differences between healthy and pathological brain ageing. Click here for a link to the article.


Solanezumab trial in Alzheimer's Disease
Results of a clinical trial for a new drug for Alzheimer's disease were announced yesterday, prompting cautious optimism from the scientific and medical communities.  The drug, Solenuzemab from Eli Lilly, slowed the progression of disease in patients in the early stages of Alzheimer's.  While these were small changes, this is the first drug reported to alter the course of the disease. These results lend hope to other clinical trials testing similar drugs.  From a scientific perspective, this study is exciting as it further validates the amyloid hypothesis of disease pathogenesis and will guide scientists working on more effective disease modifying therapeutics.

Prof Richard Morris and Dr Tara Spires-Jones of CCNS, who both contributed to the preclinical work that led to this type of drug treatment, were asked their opinions on the news by the press. In the Telegraph, Prof Morris was quoted:

“My own judgement is that it is likely to be significant. My grounds for suspecting significance is that the new study constitutes positive evidence for the amyloid hypothesis that has been around for over 20 years. Many have been anywhere from sceptical to downright dismissive of the idea given the sheer number of failures of antibody studies.” and Dr Spires-Jones was quoted: "If it proves to be disease modifying in the current phase 3 trial and provides long term benefits, it will be a huge step forward from the current treatment options." 

Pathology in an Alzheimer patient's brain


CCNS at the BNA Festival of Neuroscience 2015
Several researchers from CCNS gave talks at the BNA Festival of Neuroscience 2015 which was held in Edinburgh in April. Iris Oren, Andrea Moreno, Richard Morris and Tara Spires-Jones all gave well-received talks at the meeting and there were many poster presentations from staff and postgraduates in CCNS.

Iris Oren Richard Morris

Tara Spires-Jones

Alzhiemer's Research UK Conference
Researchers from the Oren and Spires-Jones lab attended the Alzheimer's Research UK national conference March 10-11 at UCL in London.   Over 400 scientists attended the meeting. CCNS PhD students Keir Shaffick-Richardson, Eleanor Pickett, and Rosemary Jackson  and postdocs Rosalind Brown, Chris Henstridge and Abi Herrman presented posters and Tara Spires-Jones gave a symposium talk and participated in a panel debate.

http://www.dementiablog.org/untangling-tau-in-the-brain/ 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRhHQ49ZdAs 

Abi Herrmann Chris Henstridge

Eleanor Picket Rosemary Jackson


350th Anniversary of Philosophical Transactions
Friday, 6 March, marks the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.  Phil. Trans. is the oldest scientific journal in the world and the one that invented ‘peer review’.  Papers from throughout this period, in both the Physical and Life Sciences, are being celebrated and this takes the form of scholarly commentaries of the target articles.  David Willshaw (School of Informatics), Peter Dayan (not at UCL, but formerly a Ph.D student in Informatics in Edinburgh) and Richard Morris (CCNS), have prepared a commentary on the famous article about ‘archicortex’, aka hippocampus, published by David Marr in 1971 (the abstract can be seen here).  Other commentaries in this special edition of Phil. Trans. are spectacular, including discussions of the work of Isaac Newton onwards. An article in Nature is available here.


FENS-KAVLI Network of Excellence
Tara Spires-Jones has been appointed one of just 20 members of the FENS-KAVLI Network of Excellence.  This network of excellent young neuroscientists, established by the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS) in collaboration with the Kavli Foundation, aims to foster exchange - scientific or about science policy - between excellent junior/mid-career neuroscientists who are either working in Europe or received their academic training in Europe.


Commonwealth Science Conference
Richard Morris (Director of CCNS) had the privilege of attending the recent Commonwealth Science Conference in Bangalore, India.  It was hosted by Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society and Director of the Crick Institute in London, shown here with Susan Cory from Australia.  Richard was with various delegates from all over the world, including Sir Mark Walport, Government Chief Scientific Advisor.


Roger Redondo and MIT team publish Nature paper
Congratulations to Roger Redondo (former Ph.D student and postdoc in CCNS) who has today published a fascinating paper in Nature. Tomonori Takeuchi, a postdoc in CCNS, has written an accessible account of the study in Nature’s News and Views

There is lots of commentary in the media including The Times, The New York Times, BBC News, BBC World Service etc. and even a “lead article” in The Times.  The study in question uses optogenetics to explore the reactivation of specific spatial memory traces and to change the emotional connections associated with them from bad to good or vice versa.  All in all, an ingenious piece of work by our former colleague.

BBC News;
The New York Times;
Wall Street Journal;
Wired;
The Scientist;
The Independent;
Daily Telegraph.


Branco Weiss Fellowship
Congratulations to Lisa Genzel on being awarded a prestigious 'Science in Society - The Branco Weiss Fellowship' for outstanding postdoctoral researchers. Ten fellowships were awarded (out of 376 applications) and only 3 went to UK researchers (including one to Dr Pedro Vale from Edinburgh Infectious Diseases, so Edinburgh is doing very well!). As a Branco Weiss fellow, Dr. Lisa Genzel's aim is to shed more light into the fundamental processes occurring in our brains during sleep. Further details are available here.


PhD Graduation
Following her successful viva, Abi Herrmann graduated on 28 June 2014 at a ceremony in the McEwan Hall. Congratulations again Abi!


Abi Herrmann viva
Congratulations to Dr. Abigail Herrmann who passed her viva with flying colors on 1 April 2014.   Abi did her PhD work with Professor James McCulloch examining the role of oxygen reduction in the risk for developing Alzheimer's disease.  For more details on this important work, see their paper in the Journal of Cerebral Blood flow and Metabolism (Hermann et al 2013 click here).  Abi has now started a postdoctoral position funded by the first joint grant between Alzheimer's Research UK and the Scottish Government to develop a new model of Alzheimer's disease under the supervision of Dr Spires-Jones, Dr Oren, and Dr Hardt in CCNS.

Abi with the examiners (from left): Prof Tom Gillingwater, Dr Deborah Dewar, Abi Herrmann and Dr Amy Pooler


Richard Morris elected to EMBO
Richard Morris was amongst the 106 outstanding researchers in the life sciences that were newly elected to EMBO membership. One hundred of the scientists reside in Europe and neighbouring countries; six Associate Members were elected from China, Japan and the United States. The EMBO Membership currently comprises more than 1600 life scientists.

EMBO has decided to strategically expand the scope of its membership on the occasion of its 50th anniversary to honour the progress that has been made in the fields of neuroscience and ecology & evolution. The 106 new members for 2014 include 50 scientists who have made exceptional contributions to these research areas.

EMBO Members make invaluable contributions to the organization by providing suggestions and feedback on the activities of EMBO. They serve on selection committees for EMBO programmes and mentor young scientists. Their input has helped to promote excellence in life sciences since 1964.

EMBO stands for excellence in life sciences.


Richard Morris awarded RSE medals 
Richard Morris, Professor of Neuroscience and Director of CCNS at the University of Edinburgh has been awarded a medal by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The medals are the most prestigious awards given out by the RSE - congratulations! For more information, see the Royal Society of Edinburgh's website and Research Professional.


Chancellor's Fellows Awarded ARUK Grant

Dr Tara Spires-Jones, of the University of Edinburgh and co-investigators Dr Iris Oren and Dr Oliver Hardt have been awarded a total of £450,000 from Alzheimer's Research UK and will study the molecular mechanisms that cause deterioration of synapses – connections between nerve cells that allow them to communicate with each other. This breakdown of synapses leads to the memory loss experienced by people with Alzheimer’s, and the researchers hope to find ways of protecting the synapses and preserving memory.

For more information, see the press research on the ARUK website.


Richard Morris' Plenary Lecture

Richard Morris gave the Opening Plenary lecture at a meeting on 14 May 2013 in Brussels entitled ‘European Brain Research: successes and next challenges’. This conference, attended by over 350 people from across Europe, addressed issues to do with planning the contribution of brain research to the Horizon 2020 framework of EU funding for research, and issues related to advocacy.


Richard Morris awarded Fondation Ipsen Prize for Neuronal Plasticity

Richard Morris, Royal Society/Wolfson Professor of Neuroscience, has been named as the co-recipient of this year’s Fondation Ipsen Prize for Neuronal Plasticity.  He shares the prize with Dr T V P Bliss of the MRC National Institute for Medical Research and Professor Yadin Dudai of the Weizmann Institute, Israel.

This prize is awarded annually for work on brain development, synaptogenesis, ageing, neural regeneration, cognition and brain growth factors among other things. This year the citation is for research on “Mechanisms of Memory”.

Professor Morris has pioneered novel techniques for studying the neurobiology of learning and memory.  Through these, he made the discovery that a specific type of excitatory receptor in the brain had a critical role in memory formation.  His current research has moved on to an interest in “mental schemas”. This work has potential applications in education and medicine.


Emma Wood at the BNA Christmas Symposium

Emma Wood gave a talk entitled "Going home for Christmas, but how do we get there? The neuroscience of navigation" at the recent BNA Christmas Symposium which was held at the Royal Society on December 19th. Other speakers were John O'Keefe and Francesca Cacucci (UCL), Paul Graham (Sussex), Dora Biro (Oxford), Carlo de Lillo (Leicester) and Jan Wiener (Bournemouth). The following British Neuroscience Association Awards were presented by Professor David Nutt, President of the BNA, Imperial College London:
Public Understanding of Neuroscience: Claudia Hammond
Contribution to Neuroscience: Professor Steven Rose
Undergraduate award 2012: Lewis Hou, University of Edinburgh
Postgraduate award 2012: Florence Fricker, King’s College London