Network vs Individual Bursting Neurons

Motor Neurons and MEA
Dysregulated bursting is at the root of many motor neuron/neuromuscular junction disease. ArunA Biomedical teaming with Axion Biosystems have generated relevant bursting data from our Mouse Motor Neurons cultured on Axion-Bioystem’s Maestro MEA.

Figure: Mouse Motor Neuron Network Modulation by Bicuculline-ckeck out the entire presentation to learn more: GFP+ Motor Neurons: Development and in-vitro Functional Assessment on Microelectrode Arrays

Protocol User’s Guide for Culturing Motor Neuron on MEA(pdf – 679Kb)

Name Catalog # Type Species Applications Size Price
Motor Neurons-GFP+ Quick Start Kit mMN7205.QS Primary Neurons M Cell Assays 750,000 $349
Motor Neurons-GFP+ HTS Kit mMN7205-HTS Primary Neurons M Cell Assays 4 X 750,000 $989
GDNF (Human, Mouse) PR27022-2 Protein H; M 2 ug 10 ug $108 $205
AB2™ Basal Neural Medium AB27011.3 Cell Growth Media H; M Cell Assays 500 ml $69

We will continue providing you content we believe important. Should you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you and we stand ready to serve you and your team.

Pete Shuster-CEO and Owner, Neuromics, 612-801-1007, pshuster@neuromics.com

The Importance of in vivo Like Astroglial-Neuron Co-Cultures

The Power of Neuromics’-Aruna Biomedical’s hAstroPro™-NeuroNet™ Co-Cultures. We are pleased to be the first to market with our in vivo like co-cultures. Here are key points of what make these cultures unique:

  • Pure, Potent and Proven

  • Proof That These areTrue Co-Cultures

  •  Co-Cultures vs Neuron Only Cultures

What have we learned? The mix of Astroglia vs Neurons can have a dramatic impact on your data end points. This can lead to wrong conclusion being drawn from your tox and compound/small molecule neurodegenerative disease assays. We stand ready to serve you and your team. Questions? Don not hesitate to call 612-801-1007 or e-mail me pshuster@neuromics.com. Pete Shuster, CEO and Owner, Neuromics

Inflammatory Macrophages in ALS Spinal Cord

In my many conversation with Neuro-disease researchers, I often learn of discoveries that beg to be shared. I have been collaborating with Dr. Milan Fiala to explore how our hN2 Primary Human Neurons could be best used to study the role of inflammatory cytokines in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This would build on the excellent research he and his team are conducting at UCLA.

He shared with me that these inflammatory cytokines could be the bad actors in ALS. Specifically, in vitro, superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD-1) stimulates expression of inflammatory cytokines, including IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α, through activation of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and caspase-1. Further, they have discovered The lipid mediator resolvin D1 (RvD1) inhibited IL-6 and TNF-α production in ALS macrophages with 1,100 times greater potency than its parent molecule docosahexaenoic acid. ALS peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) showed increased transcription of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines at baseline and after stimulation by aggregated wild-type SOD-1, and these cytokines were down regulated by RvD1. Thus the neurons are impacted by macrophages expressing inflammatory cytokines. RvD1 strongly inhibits in ALS macrophages and PBMCs cytokine transcription and production. Resolvins offer a new approach to suppression of inflammatory activation in ALS. To learn more see: Guanghao Liu, Milan Fiala, Mathew T. Mizwicki, James Sayre, Larry Magpantay, Avi Siani, Michelle Mahanian, Madhuri Chattopadhyay, Antonio La Cava, and Martina Wiedau-Pazos. Neuronal phagocytosis by inflammatory macrophages in ALS spinal cord: inhibition of inflammation by resolvin D1.
Am J Neurodegener Dis. 2012;1(1):60-74.

Images: Co localization of TNF-a- and IL-6- expressing macrophages with caspase-3-and the chemokine RANTES (CCL5) – stained neurons in ALS and control spinal cords. Frozen sections of ALS and control lumbar spinal cord were stained with anti-NeuN (red), anti-CD68 (green), anti-caspase-3 (magenta) or anti-RANTES (magenta), and DAPI (blue) (Immunofluorescence microscopy (20X)). The experiment was repeated with 2 other ALS spinal cords and 2 other control spinal cords and yielded comparable results.
Photomicrographs are shown in 2 patients (A, B, C, D) and 2 controls (E, F). (A) Co
localization (yellow) of TNF-a-positive (magenta) and (CD68-positive, green) macrophages with NeuN–positive (red) neurons; (B) Co localization (yellow) of IL-6-positive (magenta) and CD68-positive (green) macrophages with NeuN–positive (red) neurons; (C) Co localization of macrophages (CD68-positive, green) with apoptotic, caspase-3-positive (magenta) and non-apoptotic (caspase-3-negative (red)) neurons. Eight neurons are impacted by macrophages; 3 neurons are caspase-3-positive (arrows) and 5 neurons are caspase-3- negative (asterisk); (D) Co localization of macrophages (yellow) with RANTES-positive (magenta) and CD 68-positive (green) macrophages with NeuN-positive (red) neurons. (E&F) No macrophages (green) are detected in 3 control spinal cords. (G&H) The table shows that in three ALS spinal cords 19.2 +/−4.8% NeuN-positive (red) neurons co localize with TNF-a -positive (magenta) macrophages (green) and 18.5 +/− 4.9 % NeuN-positive (red) neurons co localize with IL-6-positive (magenta) macrophages (green), whereas in control spinal cords 0% neurons (red) co localize with macrophages (green).

I will keep you posted on progress.

Gerry Shaw-Master of World Class Neuronal/Glial Markers

Build it and They will Come

Gerry and One of His Triumph's MCs
Gerry and One of His Triumph’s MCs

I am pleased to profile Dr. Gerry Shaw, a Professor at the University of Florida and also the Head of EnCor Biotechnology Inc.  His story is a guide for incubating and spinning out a successful biotech company (EnCor Biotechnology, Inc.) from a university research laboratory. It should provide an inspiration for fledgling entrepreneurs as the model required little capital investment and has enjoyed profitable growth.

The Backstory

Gerry’s major area of research interest can be summarized as the study of cellular changes resulting from central nervous system damage and disease states. These changes help neuroscience researchers understand the progression and hopefully discover root causes of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS. Understanding which proteins are involved in particular disease states also has the potential of identifying targets for therapies.

The story starts with Gerry’s Post Doctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Goettingen, in what was at the time West Germany. Here he joined the world renowned laboratory of Klaus Weber and Mary Osborn. This lab had pioneering several important techniques, notably SDS-PAGE for protein analysis and the use of antibodies in immunocytochemistry. Later, after Gerry left the same lab made key contributions leading to the routine use of RNAi in “knock down” of normal cellular proteins. The lab had developed antibodies to tag the subunit proteins of microtubules, microfilaments, intermediate filaments and other cellular proteins, and then used these antibodies to visualize the proteins in immunofluorescence microscopy and on western blots. This enabled researchers to look at changes in the cellular expression of these proteins in powerful new way. These methods have become vital tools for understanding normal cellular function and what happens when cells transition from healthy to diseased states. This lab was an ideal location for Gerry to learn how to make quality monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. Good antibody reagents are vital for the correct interpretation of immunofluorescence microscopy and western blots, and he was soon supplying his reagents to friends, collaborators and other researchers all around the world. Success is value as antibodies that do not as work as expected waste research time and resources, while quality reagents soon become appreciated and may get to be standard lab reagents.

University of Florida

The University of Florida, in Gainesville imported his expertise when Gerry joined the institute in 1986. Here he continued to make antibodies to Neurofilaments or NFs and other Neuronal-Glial Markers. It’s hard to keep a good thing a secret and Gerry faced growing demand from all over for these reagents. This proved a drain both financially and in terms of time commitment, as well as a significant conflict of interest with his basic biomedical research program.

MAP2_Doering IHC Image: Co-culture of embryonic mouse hippocampal neurons and astrocytes. Primary embryonic hippocampal neurons at 7 days in vitro, were stained with Microtubule Associated Protein-2 (MAP, green) to enable the visualization of the dendritic arbors. These neurons were cultured on top of a monolayer of primary cortical astrocytes, stained with an antibody directed against

Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP, red). The cell nuclei were visualized by staining with 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI, blue). BMC Image of the Month October 2010

As a result Gerry took his first entrepreneurial step by selling his most popular reagents in bulk initially to Chemicon (now Millipore-Merck). Like any new business venture, he did not really know what to expect. It should come as no surprise that the reagents sold like hot cakes and the check started rolling in. Other immunoreagent companies approached Gerry and soon he was supplying antibodies to pretty much every major biotechnology vendor.

ABC Biologicals to EnCor Biotechnology Inc.

Success breeds success and as sales increased over the 1990s, it was time to form an independent business and so ABC Biologicals Inc. was incorporated in 1999 initially to buy equipment and develop licensing agreements. Since Gerry had income from sales, he was in the unusual and enviable position of not needing grants, investors, loans or cash from any other source, and so could proceed with almost total independence. The company was renamed EnCor Biotechnology Inc. in 2002, and at the same time moved into the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator, a lab dedicated to commercialization of intellectual property generated by the faculty of the University of Florida. The University of Florida is unusually experienced at this and is well known for launching Gatorade, Trusopt and many other products. After 4 years EnCor “graduated” from the Incubator and now occupies a facility in Gainesville. The company now has almost 100 products with many more under development. This is good news for the Neuroscience community.

The EnCor-Neuromics Connection

Neuromics provides EnCor Biotechnology reagents to researchers studying neuro-degeneration, neuro-regeneration, neuro-development, neural stem cells, mood disorders, brain injury and spinal cord injury. My customers have found EnCor’s reagents to be rock solid and versatile.

In addition, Gerry and his team have proved adept at culturing our E18 hippocampal neurons and ESC derived hN2TM primary neurons. This is a big plus as we can actually see how the cells and markers could resonate together for use in cell based assays.

Hippo_MAPT_DC1 Image: E18 hippocampal neurons stained with Tau (red) and Doublecortin (green). The two proteins overlap in the proximal dendrites (yellow) Axons (low doublecortin content) are red. Blue staining is the nuclear DNA.

Futures

I am excited by the glimpse of the future that Gerry shared. We can expect many new, novel and important markers in the coming months and years. In addition, he will be manufacturing various Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). These kits have the potential to help clinicians diagnose the early onset of diseases like ALS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

For example, his company currently sells an ELISA kit for sensitive detection of Phosphorylated Neurofilament-H (pNF-H). Expression of this protein is up regulated in a variety of damage and disease states, and can be used to accurately quantify this up regulation. The kit can also detect pNF-H in the sera and spinal cord fluid (CSF) of animals with spinal cord and brain lesions. This protein is not normally found in sera or CSF, so its presence indicates recent axonal injury as a result of either damage or disease. This suggests pNF-H is a useful biomarker of neuronal and more specifically axonal injury or degeneration, a suggestion supported by a growing list of basic science publications on various animal models and patient types from Gerry’s research lab (e.g. Shaw et al. 2005, Lewis et al. 2008, Boylan et al. 2009, Lewis et al. 2010).

Given the capabilities of EnCor’s markers, the development of more kits is coming. There could be a day in the not distant future where they give clinicians tools to better diagnose and monitor serious neurodegenerative diseases, leading to better disease treatment and management.

I will keep you informed on Gerry’s and EnCor’s future developments.

Coming Soon-Dr. Gerry Shaw

Zen and the Art of Bio-marker Production

Up next will be Dr. Gerry Shaw.  Gerry is the founder and head of EnCor Biotechnology, Inc. His company is recognized for creating markers that are engines of Neuroscience and Stem Cell Research.

Dr. Gerry Shaw with Triumph MC

Dr. Gerry Shaw with Triumph MC

I am pleased to represent his company’s reagents. They are well designed, thoroughly tested and proven to work in my customers’ many application.

They have proven especially effective in working in cell based assays using our eSC derived hNP1 human neurons and e18 primary rat hippocampal neurons.

Applications include the study of TBI, SCI, ALS, AD, MS and PD.

Image:  hN2 cells stained with our chicken polyclonal antibody to Vimentin, in red. Islands of Hn2 cells form after 4 days in culture forming beautiful flower like structures. Vimentin is a well established marker of early differentiating neuronal lineage cells. Taken with a 10X objective lens. Blue staining is the nuclear DNA.

hN2 Cells stained with Vimentin

hN2 Cells stained with Vimentin

More on STEMEZ hN2 Primary Human Neurons

My company’s STEMEZTM hN2 Primary Human Neuron Discovery Kits have been a frequent topic on “News Behind the Neuroscience News”. My friends at Aruna Biomedical continue to broaden the capabilities of these Kits based on customer feedback.

I am seeing increasing demand for these cells as these capabilities are published. Here’s the latest:

A. Young, D.W. Machacek, S.K. Dhara, P.R. MacLeish, M. Benveniste, M.C. Dodla, C.D. Sturkie and S.L. Stice. Ion channels and ionotrophic receptors in a human embryonic stem cell derived neural progenitors. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.04.039. Markers used:…mouse nonoclonal anti nestin (neuromics), mouse monoclonal anti tuj-1 (neuromics)…

Abstract: Human neural progenitor cells differentiated from human embryonic stem cells offer a potential cell source for studying neurodegenerative diseases and for drug screening assays. Previously, we demonstrated that human neural progenitors could be maintained in a proliferative state with the addition of leukemia inhibitory factor and basic fibroblast growth factor. Here we demonstrate that 96 h after removal of basic fibroblast growth factor the neural progenitor cell culture was significantly altered and cell replication halted. Fourteen days after the removal of basic fibroblast growth factor, most cells expressed microtubule-associated protein 2 and TUJ1, markers characterizing a post-mitotic neuronal phenotype as well as neural developmental markers Cdh2 and Gbx2. Real-time PCR was performed to determine the ionotrophic receptor subunit expression profile. Differentiated neural progenitors express subunits of glutamatergic, GABAergic, nicotinic, purinergic and transient receptor potential receptors. In addition, sodium and calcium channel subunits were also expressed. Functionally, virtually all the hNP cells tested under whole-cell voltage clamp exhibited delayed rectifier potassium channel currents and some differentiated cells exhibited tetrodotoxin-sensitive, voltage-dependent sodium channel current. Action potentials could also be elicited by current injection under whole-cell current clamp in a minority of cells. These results indicate that removing basic fibroblast growth factor from the neural progenitor cell cultures leads to a post-mitotic state, and has the capability to produce excitable cells that can generate action potentials, a landmark characteristic of a neuronal phenotype. This is the first report of an efficient and simple means of generating human neuronal cells for ionotrophic receptor assays and ultimately for electrically active human neural cell assays for drug discovery.

STEMEZ hN2 Cells-Electrophysiology Data

STEMEZ hN2 Cells-Electrophysiology Data

 

 

 

 

 

I will continue to post updates here.

Satish Medicetty-Platforms for MS Drug Discovery

In Search of Remyelination Therapies

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease with no known cure. It affects over 400,000 people in the US and over 2.5 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of non-traumatic neurological disability in North America.

It is a chronic and brutal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. MS symptoms are due to the damage or loss of myelin sheath that surrounds, isolates and protects axons of brain and spinal cord. The results are often debilitating and afflict most sufferers in the prime of their lives. The annual costs to slow the disease and treat related
symptoms are in the billions of dollars and rising. There are currently no therapies to reverse damage of MS. At this point, there are only immune suppressive therapies that slow attack on the myelin sheath.

It is with hope and optimism that I present Dr. Satish Medicetty and his company, Renovo Neural Inc. (RNI) in this edition of the “News Behind the Neuroscience News”.

I became aware of Satish and his company in my search for Stem Cells that would broaden Neuromics ability to serve early phase Neuroscience Drug Discovery.

Satish Medicetty

Satish Medicetty

Apr 2010 – Present: President and Board Director Renovo Neural Inc.

June 2008 – Mar 2010: Director of Stem Cell Research and Lab Operations
NeoStem Inc

July 2005 – June 2008: Senior Scientist Athersys

2006 – 2008: MBA, Case Western University

2002 – 2005: PhD, Kansas State University

After my first conversation with him, I was impressed with the capabilities RNI offered.

RNI

The company, founded in 2008 with a$3 million grant from the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission, is leveraging cutting edge research from Dr. Bruce Trapp’s lab at the Cleveland Clinic.

At the core, RNI offers pioneering and propriety assays that give Drug Discovery Companies the ability to screen small molecules and compounds that could be lead therapy candidates for MS and other myelin-related diseases. These screens use a type of stem cell called adult oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs).

The Power of OPCs

So what makes these OPCs an engine for finding cures for MS?  Inflammation associated with MS attacks destroys cells called oligodendrocytes that produce myelin. The only way to reverse this autoimmune related process is for the brain to produce healthy cells that can catalyze re-myelination. Enter OPCs.

OPCs are the raw material for processes the central nervous system uses to manufacture oligodendrocytes.  The brain’s inability to produce enough healthy cells to keep up with the destruction is a root cause of the disease. Understanding how to kick start and keep the oligodendrocyte factory running is a key to reversing this relentless destruction.

Delivering Value

RNI has the capabilities to the decrease time required and increase the odds for discovering potential MS therapies.  They have the raw material (OPCs) and the know how to encourage their transformation into myelinating cells. This expertise can be utilized can be used then to rapidly test new compounds both in vitro and in vivo.

In Vito Assays Example

In Vitro Assays Example

The features of their in vitro assays include:

  • Stringent protocols to generate relatively homogeneous (>85% pure) and consistent population of OPCs as a reliable starting material for HCS assays
  • Relatively high throughput primary screen to identify potential candidates that promote OPC proliferation and/or differentiation
  • Secondary screen to confirm and qualify compounds for further pharmacological testing
  • Positive and negative controls that demonstrate the utility of HCS assays to identify lead candidates that promote OPC proliferation and differentiation.

The features of their in vivo cuprizone assays include:

  • Stringent protocols to generate highly reproducible demyelination/remyelination cuprizone model
  • Cuprizone model recapitulates the in vivo process of demyelination and remyelination in the brain.
  • Cuprizone model provides consistent and accurate results for key regions of the brain that are affected in MS patients including both white and gray matter regions – corpus callosum, hippocampus and cortex.
  • Proof of concept studies demonstrate the utility of our in vivo remyelination assays to evaluate preclinical efficacy of potential remyelination therapies

The end goal is to discover therapies that repair neurons damaged by MS via remyelination and to get them in the hands of people that need them. I will keep you posted on their progress.

Coming Soon-Dr. Steve Hall

Dr. Steve Hall

Dr. Steve Hall

Dr Steve Hall has been a friend, collaborator and mentor since I purchased Neuromics. This includes being a Neuromics’ Premier supplier of Stem Cells and Related Markers, Media and Methods. Steve is currently President at AlphaGenix, Inc.

His expertise includes developing novel products and technologies for basic and clinical research with a particular emphasis on stem cell markers, biomaterials and regenerative medicine. The biomaterials product focus involves the design and application of 3-dimensional biomaterials comprised of extracellular matrix components and peptide nanofibers that have cell culture and tissue engineering applications. In addition, the company conducts regenerative medicine research that involves basic science and translational preclinical research using stem cell regulatory network discoveries and novel preclinical studies utilizing animal models with a focus on neurological disease.

He is a contributor to: Stem Cell Therapy for Neurological Diseases Stem cell therapy for the treatment of acute and chronic neurological diseases

Harting, Matthew T., Cox, Charles S. and Hall, Stephen G.  Adult Stem Cell Therapy for Neurological Disease: Preclinical evidence for cellular therapy as a treatment for neurological disease. In Vemore and Vinoglo (eds): Regulatory Networks in Stem Cells. Humana Press, pp 561-573, (2009). More information.

Stay tuned for Steve’s backstory in June!

Featuring Dr. Pat Carr

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)-New Twists on Root Causes

Teacher, Mentor and Friend    Dr. Pat Carr has been a key figure in helping shape the direction of my company. He has a gift for communicating the nuances of his research and coaching me on how to best serve labs like his. Based on these interactions, it came as no surprise to learn of his being Recognized for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Service at University of North Dakota.

“Dr. Carr has a magic way of teaching,” said second-year medical student, Tyson Bolinske. “He is able to take the most difficult topics and, through detailed notes, logically break down the material.

From a recent dialog, I learned of his growing work on the Ventral Horn and search for root causes of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).   I wanted to learn more! I would like to thank Pat for agreeing to share his story and giving me the opportunity to feature highlights in  “News Behind the Neuroscience News”.

 Information on ALS

ALS is an insidious disease.  It is a progressive neurodenerative disease that is always fatal. Approximately 5600 new cases are diagnosed each year. Average survival is typically 3-5 years from onset. The most common form of ALS in the United States is “sporadic” ALS. It can happen to anyone at anytime.  The other is the inherited form named “Familial” ALS (FALS). Only about 5 to 10% of all ALS patients appear to have FALS. As the disease progresses the symptons become more acute. Paralysis spreads through the body affecting  speech, swallowing, chewing and breathing. Ventilator support is need in late stages

 Pat’s Journey

Pat took the “road less traveled”.  He was a passionate hockey player in Canada. He  concluded in his late teens that he was not at a level to take this road to wealth and fame.

Pat Carr

Pat Carr

06/04–present Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of North Dakota 

1996–98 Research Associate/Adjunct Assistant Professor/Auxilliary Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy;Wright State University

 07/98–06/04 Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of North Dakota

Postdoc, National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience, 1994-96

Postdoc, University of Manitoba, Neuroscience, 1992-1994    

Ph.D., University of Manitoba, Physiology, 1992

Next was a stint as an automechanic in Brandon, Canada. The discipline and logic involved in fixing cars catalyzed an interest in Science which led to him going to Brandon University to study Geology. When the oil market collapsed in 1983, he decided to change his studies to Zoology and earned a BS in 1984.

A passion was sparked when he did field research in the Canadien Rockies studying parasites in Columbian Ground  Squirrels. He loved it, but recognized the limited value of continuing thsese studies. This lead to the wide open field of Neuroscience and the opportunity to study and solve problems that could benefit mankind. His graduate work at University of Manitoba and focusing on Neuropathic Pain and the Dorsal Horn. He then moved on to studying Ventral Horn and Motor Control Function for his Post Doc at Wright State.

From Pain to ALS

It was Pat’s work in Pain at the University of North Dakota that brought me into initial contact with him. He generously put some of our key Pain/Inflammation and  Neurotransmission Research Antibodies through their paces. These included some of our Neuropeptide and Neuropeptide Receptors , P2X Receptors and TRPV1s (Vanilloids).

His previous work in studying the Ventral Horn combined with a colleagues mouse model of ALS combined to create a prefect opportunity to advance the understanding of ALS.  Pat cautioned me with this insight:  ”sometimes it is  not what you want to study; it is what you can study.  The model is  SOD1 (superoxide dismutase 1) which is core to FALS.(occurs in only about 10% of the ALS cases).

Pat is broadening the play field by looking at what else is happening in sporadic ALS vs FALS. Specifically, he is looking at modulation of alpha Motor Neurons and how the activity of adjacent Renshaw Cells impact signaling and modulation.  Renshaw Cells act as a “governor” on the activity of these alpha Motor Neurons. 

He is drilling down by studying the signaling of ChAT (Choline Acetyltransferase), VAChT (Vesicular acetylcholine transporter) and related molecules. By gaining a deeper understanding of how Renshaw Cells signaling changes the activity of alpha Motor Neurons in ALS,  Pat and his team are taking steps towards discovering roots causes.

As these root causes are further illuminated, I will be reporting specifics in my blog.