Shalom Life | March 28, 2015

Mice: Key to Understanding Neurological Disease?

Tel Aviv researchers learn about Vanishing White Matter from engineered mice.

By: Bev Spritzer

Published: July 18th, 2010 in News » Israel

Mice: Key to Understanding Neurological Disease?

Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU) have developed a strain of mice in order to help scientists learn more about various brain diseases.

The mice in question suffer from Vanishing White Matter (VWM), a neurological disorder that as of now, remains incurable.

VWM is most often diagnosed in young children, and caused by a mutation in one of the 5 genes that make up the elF2B enzyme. This enzyme plays an important role in properly functioning systems throughout the body, but mutations seem to affect white matter in the brain, for reasons that are still unclear.

The development of mice with VWM is a medical breakthrough, as these mice will allow scientists to perform invasive research that cannot be carried out on human beings.

Israeli researchers hope these mice will be the key to answering questions regarding early symptoms of the disease, what can trigger the disease, or cause its symptoms to become more severe. Research on the mice will also help scientists identify the molecular processes behind the disease, an important factor in finding a cure.

VWM can be recessively inherited, and while symptoms generally appear in young children who may have appeared to develop normally up until that point, it has been recently shown that VWM can begin at birth as well, or even in adulthood.

A defining feature of the disease is that the symptoms seem to progress slowly for the most part, but there can be episodes of rapid decline following a fever, infection or head trauma. The patient may have a partial recovery following these episodes, but they may also lead to coma, or death.

The disease is typically diagnosed on the basis of symptoms which can range from delayed psychomotor development in young children, to neurological deterioration, lethargy, abnormal muscle spasms, loss of muscle coordination, seizures, and optic atrophy.

In order to create mice with VWM, the scientists have altered the gene responsible for elF2B production, so that the mice have only 80% of the normal level of the enzyme. The TAU research team who successfully manipulated the genes was led by Professor Orna Elroy-Stein.

Israel National News reported that the mice with lower enzyme levels were then placed under MRI observation, allowing researchers to see which areas of the brain were affected and when.

What the scientists found was that the mice with low elF2B levels were not able to repair damage to white matter in the brain, while those with normal enzyme levels repaired brain damage over the course of several weeks.

Leukoencephalopathy is a variation of VWM, which also affects the brain and central nervous system, and thus can also benefit from the research. This disorder causes deterioration of the central nervous system's white matter, which consists of nerve fibers covered by myelin. Myelin is the fatty substance that insulates and protects nerves.

Research into disorders affecting white brain matter is thus expected to help scientists understand not just VWM, but other neurological disorders as well, including Multiple Sclerosis, among others.

Woman Exposes Herself To Minors At Arizona Bar Mitzvah Woman Exposes Herself To Minors At Arizona Bar Mitzvah TrendingShortly Before they Died in Brooklyn Fire, the Sassoon Children Recorded This Emotional Song [VIDEO] Shortly Before they Died in Brooklyn Fire, the Sassoon Children Recorded This Emotional Song [VIDEO] TrendingMeet Shalom Life's Top 20 Under 40, Class of 2015 Meet Shalom Life's Top 20 Under 40, Class of 2015 Trending
 

Op-Ed: Obama, not Netanyahu, is Killing the Two-State Solution

March 27, 2015 | By Ben Cohen, JNS.org
Op-Ed: Obama, not Netanyahu, is Killing the Two-State Solution

The U.S. President has never really empathized with the emotions that govern Israeli perceptions of the wider region

Read More

Op-Ed: Lena Dunham’s 'Dog or Jewish Boyfriend' Piece is Thoughtless and Offensive

March 27, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Op-Ed: Lena Dunham’s 'Dog or Jewish Boyfriend' Piece is Thoughtless and Offensive

In her latest literary endeavour, 'Girls' star Dunham tries to come across as funny by comparing her boyfriend to a dog; she doesn't

Read More

James Deen to Play Himself on Showtime's 'Happyish'

March 27, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
James Deen to Play Himself on Showtime's 'Happyish'

The prolific Jewish porn star will appear in a cameo on the new show out on April 26th

Read More

Woman Exposes Herself To Minors At Arizona Bar Mitzvah

March 27, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Woman Exposes Herself To Minors At Arizona Bar Mitzvah

Lindsey Radomski is being charged by police after allegedly exposing herself to, and performing oral sex on, minors at a Bar Mitzvah this past Saturday

Read More

Association Assisting Holocaust Survivors Needs Your Help To Make Their Passover Seder Possible

March 27, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Association Assisting Holocaust Survivors Needs Your Help To Make Their Passover Seder Possible

The group, which holds an annual Passover Seder, is in danger of having to cancel their event due to the lack of funds needed to help the 450+ survivors who, without them, will be celebrating alone this year

Read More

Shortly Before they Died in Brooklyn Fire, the Sassoon Children Recorded This Emotional Song [VIDEO]

March 27, 2015 | By Tali Farkash & Liron Nagler-Cohen
Shortly Before they Died in Brooklyn Fire, the Sassoon Children Recorded This Emotional Song [VIDEO]

Song is their own version of Hasidic singer Yaakov Shwekey's hit "Cry No More"

Read More

Facebook Integrates Israeli App into Messenger

March 26, 2015 | By NoCamels Team
Facebook Integrates Israeli App into Messenger

Social media giant incorporates Magisto, an app that turns photos and videos into a short animated film

Read More

Toronto's Iconic Pancer’s Deli To Reopen

March 26, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Toronto's Iconic Pancer’s Deli To Reopen

The deli, which was sold five years ago and closed earlier this year, is back in Pancer's hands and won't be leaving them any time soon

Read More

More Headlines