Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is an annual celebration, coordinated by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain, dedicated to raising public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. Every March, BAW unites the efforts of organizations around the world to bring the excitement of science and communicate the progress and benefits of brain research to the general public.
Mental health experts are calling for a greater world focus on improving access to care and treatment for mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders, as well as increasing discoveries in research that will enable this goal to be met.
The Grand Challenges in Global Mental Health Initiative, led by the National Institutes of Health and the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases, has identified the top 40 barriers to better mental health around the world. Similar to past grand challenges, which focused on infectious diseases and chronic, noncommunicable diseases, this initiative seeks to build a community of funders dedicated to supporting research that will significantly improve the lives of people living with MNS disorders within the next 10 years.
Brain Awareness Week (BAW) is the global campaign to increase public awareness about the progress and benefits of brain research. Founded and coordinated by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives and European Dana Alliance for the Brain, every March BAW unites the efforts of organizations worldwide in a week-long celebration of the brain.
At Neuroscience 2008, the 38th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience held last month in Washington D.C., a number of researchers presented evidence that a small, soluble, clustered form of a protein called amyloid beta may be responsible for brain damage in Alzheimer’s disease patients . In addition, scientists report that they are finding new sources and uses of neural stem cells that may replace cells damaged by neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease .
photo credit: neurollero
Why are these reports significant? Because until recently, large insoluble amyloid beta plaques, or deposits, were considered the likely cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The plaques were thought to disrupt brain cell communication. However, new findings show that an early (i.e. small), soluble, clustered form of amyloid beta called protofibrils is found in high levels in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease . Researchers also found a strong correlation between the presence of high levels of protofibrils in the brains of transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease and the cognitive impairments associated with the disease.
An up-to-date review of the most common neurological disorders in the United States was published in the January 30th issue of Neurology . Researchers reviewed nearly 500 articles published between 1990 and 2005 to determine the rates of prevalence (meaning the total number of cases of a disease in a given population at a specific time; does not convey information about risk) or incidence (meaning the rate of occurrence of new cases of a particular disease in a given population; measures the risk of a disease) for 12 neurological disorders.