Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Please tell me how to empty my brain’s memory cache

Yes, just as emptying the memory cache in your (old) PC/Mac/etc. will improve performance; deleting your old memories will improve the performance of creating new memories. At least that’s my takeaway from a recent New York Times article entitled “Older Brain Is Willing, but Too Full.”
Reporter Douglas Quenqua of the NY Times summarized a recent study revealing this issue by noting that “Learning becomes more difficult as we age not because we have trouble absorbing new inform.”
His article goes on to state that “Mice whose brains were genetically modified to resemble those of adult humans showed no decrease in the ability to make the strong synaptic connections that enable learning — a surprise to neuroscientists at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.”
No, I don’t want to know how they were able to genetically modify mice brains to resemble human brains…or what happened to those mice that figured out how to escape the lab.
As those of us with "senior moments" could have told the researchers, the study verified that the memory issue comes into play during adulthood. These mice were less capable of weakening connections that already existed, and that made it hard for them to form robust new long-term memories. “Think of it as writing on a blank piece of white paper versus a newspaper page,” said the lead author, Joe Z. Tsien. “The difference is not how dark the pen is,” he said, “but that the newspaper already has writing on it.”
Here’s a link to the NY Times article: 
And here’s a link to the study’s abstract as posted on 
And here's the image credit for the visual that wonderfully captures the idea at the core of this study <a href=''>lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo</a>


Monday, January 28, 2013

Exercises for GBM Victims

Here’s a link to a good discussion about exercises for glioblastoma (GBM) victims on the ABTA Inspire site:

What I like about this discussion is that it’s caretakers and victims communicating with each other and helping each other.

If you’re a brain tumor caregiver or victim and haven’t signed up for the Inspire website, you may want to do so. It’s got a lot of honest, heart-felt discussions on a wide variety of subjects.

If you’re a meningioma victim or caregiver, I also strongly recommend Be sure to go to the “members” tab to follow groups, blogs, etc.

Image credit: <a href=''>leremy / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another step forward in fighting glioblastoma

According to a recent article in The Chronicle, “A new immunotherapy treatment created by Duke researchers holds promise for patients with aggressive brain tumors.

The researchers engineered a protein—bispecific T-cell engager or BiTE—that attacks the cancerous cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue. The protein locates the tumor and attracts white blood cells called T-cells to attack the cancerous cells. The therapy was successful in six out of eight mice with brain tumors.“

As you can imagine, the article reports that “The scientists’ goal is to adapt the new treatment for humans with malignant brain tumors such as glioblastoma.” According to Dr. Darrell Bigner, Director of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, if the drug succeeds in clinical trials, it could change the current standard of care for these types of tumors.

How so? Bigner says that “If [this treatment] is as successful in patients as it has been in the mice, it would be a completely new method of treating brain tumors and would potentially be much more effective than our current treatments and lack the toxicity of the current treatments.”

Being just vaguely familiar with current glioblastoma  treatments, but being somewhat familiar with GBM blogger comments on sites like Inspire, any improvement would be of huge value.

Here’s a link to the article in The Chronicle:

And for you scientists/researchers/high IQ types, here’s a link to the abstract of the published paper, “Pattern of retinoblastoma pathway inactivation dictates response to CDK4/6 inhibition in GBM” from PNS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America -