South Florida Hospital News
Sunday October 13, 2019
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October 2019 - Volume 16 - Issue 4

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What’s New in Brain Research at Weizmann?

Weizmann Institute researchers from across the disciplines are pursuing topics in neuroscience, approaching this crucial field from a number of angles. That’s because understanding our brains – in both health and disease – benefits everyone on this planet.
 
From Alzheimer’s to autism, Parkinson’s to mental health, memory to aging and beyond, here are just some of the Institute’s neuroscience advances over just the past year:
 
Bringing a revolutionary Alzheimer’s therapy to market. If you know Weizmann research, you likely know about Prof. Michal Schwartz’s work on Alzheimer’s disease. Together with Prof. Ido Amit, she has made transformative advances that are leading to a new treatment – one that not only improves memory in mice, but actually reverses many of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Prof. Schwartz is now working to bring her technique to market: a startup company founded on the basis of her discoveries has signed a cooperation agreement with Danish pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck. “The effect we saw in mice is really amazing,” she says, “and I’m hopeful that we’ll see the same effect in humans.”
 
Artificial intelligence to help Parkinson’s patients. Prof. Tamar Flash studies movement disorders, such as those seen in Parkinson’s disease, through novel means: scrutinizing the octopus and using AI to apply the lessons learned. Modeling this remarkable creature’s fluid and sophisticated movements could, as Parkinson’s News Today says, help “scientists develop ‘soft’ robots for rehabilitation clinics and even nursing homes.” Prof. Flash’s research could also lead to ways of diagnosing and treating Parkinson’s and other movement-related conditions.
 
Inhaling improves brain function. In research that made headlines, Prof. Noam Sobel – whose work has revealed the unexpected, truly vital role that our olfactory system plays in our lives – showed that we do better on tests when we inhale at the same time we’re presented with a problem. Not only could this help us in our everyday problem solving, but his findings could lead to ways of improving the skills of people with attention and learning disorders.
 
Big brains, big challenges. Why do we humans have so much trouble with our brains in the first place? Prof. Rony Paz has revealed a cause: the advanced “software” that makes our brains so complicated, so capable of functioning at a high level, is also more likely to go awry; this process is similar to the way today’s complex technologies are also more prone to glitches. In other words, the sophistication of our brains has a flip side – and it makes us prone to depression, anxiety, ADHD, and even autism.
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