The Microsoft researchers are working with the University of Cambridge to develop tools to assist surgeons and oncologists for treating patients with glioblastoma. These tools provides a highly effective means of computer-assisted segmentation and fully automatic, 3-D tumor delineation.
Currently, physicians will take a MRI scan of a brain and carefully draw an outline on each 2-D slice of the tumor and its constituent parts: areas of actively growing tumor, areas of tumor that have grown so fast that they have run out of nutrients and oxygen and are starting to die, and the area of brain surrounding the tumor that shows signs of swelling and inflammation. The researchers have devised an algorithm to replicate the manual annotations and to generalize on a previously unseen patient-data set.
The system can be trained to compute the segmentation accurately and efficiently. The technique used to segment the tumors into their component parts is a discriminative approach based on the use of decision forests using context-aware spatial features. Individual tissue types are classified simultaneously, and the results are computationally efficient, with low model complexity.
Zikic D, Glocker B, Konukoglu E, Criminisi A, Demiralp C, Shotton J, Thomas OM, Das T, Jena R, & Price SJ (2012). Decision forests for tissue-specific segmentation of high-grade gliomas in multi-channel MR. MICCAI: International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer-Assisted Intervention, 15 (Pt 3), 369-76 PMID: 23286152
Scientists at the University of Basel identified a specific gene, neuroligin-3 which when absent in mice, interferes with neuronal signal transmission which leads to the development of behavior patterns typically found in autism. These adverse effects are associated with the increased production of a specific neuronal glutamate receptor which modulates the transmission of signals between neurons. Too much of this receptor prevents the adaptation of synaptic transmission during learning processes and disrupts the long term development and function of the brain. The scientists were also able to reverse these neuronal changes.
When they reactivated the production of neuroligin-3, the nerve cells scaled down the production of the glutamate receptors to a normal level and the structural defects in the brain typical for autism disappeared. These findings are an important step in drug development for the treatment for autism.
Baudouin SJ, Gaudias J, Gerharz S, Hatstatt L, Zhou K, Punnakkal P, Tanaka KF, Spooren W, Hen R, De Zeeuw CI, Vogt K, & Scheiffele P (2012). Shared synaptic pathophysiology in syndromic and nonsyndromic rodent models of autism. Science (New York, N.Y.), 338 (6103), 128-32 PMID: 22983708
Neuroscientists at the University of Rochester have discovered an alternative mechanism to clear extra-cellular proteins from the brain. Scientists studied the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in living mouse brain. Cerebrospinal fluid acts as a cushion to protect the brain and also to “cleanse” the brain tissue. But how the fluid moves through the brain and clears waste wasn’t well understood. Scientists used a method called two-photon laser scanning microscopy to analyze the flow of CSF in living mouse brains. This new technology allowed the scientists to study the intact brain in real time.
They injected tracer molecules into the subarachnoid space, a cerebrospinal fluid-filled cavity between the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. This research conducted on mouse, is a sign of hope for people with neurodegenerative disorder.
Iliff JJ, Wang M, Liao Y, Plogg BA, Peng W, Gundersen GA, Benveniste H, Vates GE, Deane R, Goldman SA, Nagelhus EA, & Nedergaard M (2012). A paravascular pathway facilitates CSF flow through the brain parenchyma and the clearance of interstitial solutes, including amyloid β. Science translational medicine, 4 (147) PMID: 22896675