Perhaps just as important is the fact that these researchers are now making these technologies available world-wide to scientists in multiple fields of research. "Our goals were to unleash a global network of electron microscopes and provide web-accessible imagery for battalions of brain network analysts," said Robert Marc, Ph.D., Director of Research for the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah.

Marc and this team of researchers have been working on this project for eight years. They have refined the software and molecular tools to where they are now able to share them globally. "This changes the playing field for building brain maps from a few specialized laboratories to the desktops of biologists world-wide," says Marc.

The automation tools developed at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Center for 3D Electron Microscopy, allow capture of 25,000 TEM images weekly. At the same time, the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute at the University of Utah developed software to automatically merge thousands of images into gigabyte-scale mosaics and align the mosaics into terabyte-scale volumes. And in parallel, teams at the Moran Eye Center developed TEM-compatible molecular probes and classification software to tag every cell with a molecular signature, creating "color" TEM imaging.

As part of this project, the authors will soon reveal the very first molecular level map of the entire retina and neuronal networks in both a normal mammalian retina and genetic models of retinal degeneration. More than 92 percent of this 400,000-image volume has been built and should be complete by mid-April. Lead author James Anderson explains, "This technology lets the neuroscience field build circuitry blueprints for healthy neural tissues. We can compare diseased tissues to these blueprints to understand how they rewire the brain and use them to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments which aren't detectable with other methods."

While this molecular model of the retina is groundbreaking, the technology will extend far beyond ophthalmology. This is a new way to explore traumatic brain injury, neurodegenerative diseases, and epilepsy. It also makes screening of genetic models practical. By combining these tools with advanced image processing, the questions that can be explored by TEM may be limited only by the imaginations of biologists.
 
 
 

The legacy of Marie Schlau: literature to help cure Friedreich's Ataxia

If you feel like reading an unputdownable novel while collaborating with a just and solidary cause, "The Legacy of Marie Schlau" is your book! 100% of all funds raised will be dedicated to medical research to find a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia, a neurodegenerative disease that affects mostly young people, shortening their life expectancy and confining them to a wheelchair.

The life of Marie Schlau, a German Jewish girl born in 1833 hides great unsolved mysteries: accidents, disappearances, enigmas, unknown diagnoses, disturbing murders, love, tenderness, greed, lies, death ... alternatively a different story unfolds every time and takes us closer to the present. Thus, there are two parallel stories unravelling, each in a different age and place, which surprisingly converge in a revelatory chapter.

Paperback and Kindle versions for "The legacy of Marie Schlau" available for sale at Amazon now!

https://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Marie-Schlau-collective-Friedreichs-ebook/dp/B01N28AFWZ

 

Research projects currently being financed by BabelFAmily

Currently, BabelFAmily is financing two promising research projects aimed at finding a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia. Whenever you make a donation to us or purchase a copy of "The legacy of Marie Schlau", this is where all funds raised will be devoted to:

1) Gene Therapy for Friedreich's Ataxia research project:

https://www.irbbarcelona.org/en/news/international-patient-advocates-partner-to-fund-spanish-gene-therapy-project-to-treat

The project is the result of an initiative of Spanish people affected by this rare disease who are grouped in GENEFA in collaboration with the Spanish Federation of Ataxias and the BabelFAmily. The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), one of the main patients’ associations in the United States now joins the endeavour.

2) Frataxin delivery research project:

https://www.irbbarcelona.org/en/news/new-research-front-to-tackle-friedreichs-ataxia
The associations of patients and families Babel Family and the Asociación Granadina de la Ataxia de Friedreich (ASOGAF) channel 80,000 euros of their donations (50% from each organisation) into a new 18-month project at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). The project specifically aims to complete a step necessary in order to move towards a future frataxin replacement therapy for the brain, where the reduction of this protein causes the most damage in patients with Friedreich’s Ataxia.

The study is headed by Ernest Giralt, head of the Peptides and Proteins Lab, who has many years of experience and is a recognised expert in peptide chemistry and new systems of through which to delivery drugs to the brain, such as peptide shuttles—molecules that have the capacity to carry the drug across the barrier that surrounds and protects the brain. Since the lab started its relation with these patients’ associations in 2013*, it has been developing another two projects into Friedrich’s Ataxia.

 

 

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