Neuropharmacology Research Unit (CEXS-UPF)

Drug abuse and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are generating a serious social problem. This is why Rafael Maldonado’s neuropharmacology group at the CEXS-UPF studies the common biological mechanisms involved in these two phenomena. They focus particularly in nicotine, cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy, and in the possible mechanisms underlying the abusive consume of these substances. Maldonado explains there are three factors to understand why some people become addictive and others don’t: drug consume (the quantity, the frequency, the mode); social and environmental factors; and individual vulnerability, which includes genetic factors. A classical example of the effect of the environment … Continue reading Neuropharmacology Research Unit (CEXS-UPF)

“The discovery of giant viruses was revolutionary”

An interview recently published in Ellipse, the monthly magazine of the PRBB, by Maruxa Martínez-Campos.   What is a virus?  We used to think we knew. Before we discovered giant viruses, size was central to the definition of a virus: 0.3 micrometer filters were used to isolate microorganisms, and anything smaller than that which was infectious, was a virus. So giant viruses were a bit of a surprise?  We discovered them by mistake. No biologist studying viruses could have discovered them, because the first thing they did was to discard anything that wasn’t filtered. We were working on intracellular parasitic bacteria … Continue reading “The discovery of giant viruses was revolutionary”

El·lipse: Spanish science suffers a 25% cut in the budget

The May 2012 edition of the PRBB newspaper, El.lipse, a monthly bilingual newspaper, is now available: Is working at night harmful? This is one of the issues that the group of Manolis Kogevines (CREAL) is addressing in its research as explained in the new issue of El·lipse. You could also learn about the cutting-edge work with cord blood stem cells for transplants by Nadim Mahumd from the University of Illinois. The genetic origin of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups, the results of the most ambitious genetic study so far about osteoporosis and a European map of mental disorders are among the news that … Continue reading El·lipse: Spanish science suffers a 25% cut in the budget

The New Cajal Era

More than 100 years have passed after the first contributions made by Santiago Ramón y Cajal to the neural network theory. Nowadays neuroscientists take advantage of innovative tools to study neural circuits in order to understand complex behaviours. This image by David D’Amico, from the group on neurobehavioral phenotyping of mouse models of disease at the CRG, shows the hippocampus of a transgenic mouse expressing yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in specific subsets of central neurons. This type of tansgenic mice help scientists to understand neural networks in both physiological and pathological conditions. Continue reading The New Cajal Era

“We have only one chance to develop a brain”

Philippe Grandjean, Adjunct Professor of Environmental Health at Harvard University, delivered a lecture in Barcelona invited by Jordi Sunyer, from the CREAL, a ‘model institution’ according to Grandjean. Sunyer introduced the talk about what the Danish-born scientist calls a ‘silent pandemic’: the effect of chemical pollutants on neurodevelopment. To what extent do in utero conditions affect adult health?  There are several studies that show that exposing pregnant women to mercury can affect the development of their children, even if they are not affected themselves. Minamata disease, a neurological syndrome caused in children whose mothers suffer severe mercury exposure, was discovered … Continue reading “We have only one chance to develop a brain”