Through a series of complex transformations, the pixel-like input to the retina is converted into rich visual perceptions that constitute an integral part of visual recognition. Multiple visual problems arise due to damage or developmental abnormalities in the cortex of the brain. Here, we provide an overview of how visual information is processed along the ventral visual cortex in the human brain. We discuss how neurophysiological recordings in macaque monkeys and in humans can help us understand the computations performed by visual cortex.
Julie Blumberg, Gabriel Kreiman
Dramatic advances in the field of stem cell research have raised the possibility of using these cells to treat a variety of diseases. The eye is an excellent target organ for such cell-based therapeutics due to its ready accessibility, the prevalence of vasculo- and neurodegenerative diseases affecting vision, and the availability of animal models to demonstrate proof of concept. In fact, stem cell therapies have already been applied to the treatment of disease affecting the ocular surface, leading to preservation of vision. Diseases in the back of the eye, such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and inherited retinal degenerations, present greater challenges, but rapidly emerging stem cell technologies hold the promise of autologous grafts to stabilize vision loss through cellular replacement or paracrine rescue effects.
Valentina Marchetti, Tim U. Krohne, David F. Friedlander, Martin Friedlander
Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness worldwide, is characterized by progressive optic nerve damage, usually associated with intraocular pressure. Although the clinical progression of the disease is well defined, the molecular events responsible for glaucoma are currently poorly understood and current therapeutic strategies are not curative. This review summarizes the human genetics and genomic approaches that have shed light on the complex inheritance of glaucoma genes and the potential for gene-based and cellular therapies that this research makes possible.
Bao Jian Fan, Janey L. Wiggs
Understanding the genetic origin of cancer at the molecular level has facilitated the development of novel targeted therapies. Aberrant activation of the ErbB family of receptors is implicated in many human cancers and is already the target of several anticancer therapeutics. The use of mAbs specific for the extracellular domain of ErbB receptors was the first implementation of rational targeted therapy. The cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase domain is also a preferred target for small compounds that inhibit the kinase activity of these receptors. However, current therapy has not yet been optimized, allowing for opportunities for optimization of the next generation of targeted therapy, particularly with regards to inhibiting heteromeric ErbB family receptor complexes.
Hongtao Zhang, Alan Berezov, Qiang Wang, Geng Zhang, Jeffrey Drebin, Ramachandran Murali, Mark I. Greene
Cytokine production by the immune system contributes importantly to both health and disease. The nervous system, via an inflammatory reflex of the vagus nerve, can inhibit cytokine release and thereby prevent tissue injury and death. The efferent neural signaling pathway is termed the cholinergic antiinflammatory pathway. Cholinergic agonists inhibit cytokine synthesis and protect against cytokine-mediated diseases. Stimulation of the vagus nerve prevents the damaging effects of cytokine release in experimental sepsis, endotoxemia, ischemia/reperfusion injury, hemorrhagic shock, arthritis, and other inflammatory syndromes. Herein is a review of this physiological, functional anatomical mechanism for neurological regulation of cytokine-dependent disease that begins to define an immunological homunculus.
Kevin J. Tracey
The deiodinases activate or inactivate thyroid hormone, and their importance in thyroid hormone homeostasis has become increasingly clear with the availability of deiodinase-deficient animals. At the same time, heightened interest in the field has been generated following the discovery that the type 2 deiodinase can be an important component in both the Hedgehog signaling pathway and the G protein–coupled bile acid receptor 1–mediated (GPBAR1-mediated) signaling cascade. The discovery of these new roles for the deiodinases indicates that tissue-specific deiodination plays a much broader role than once thought, extending into the realms of developmental biology and metabolism.
Antonio C. Bianco, Brian W. Kim
The urgent need for better cancer treatments has stimulated interest in employing small-animal models to evaluate potential drug therapies. Robust mouse models of many human cancers have been generated using sophisticated technologies for engineering germ-line mutations. As we enter into an age of targeted therapeutics, these strains provide novel platforms for validating new anticancer drugs, assessing therapeutic index, identifying surrogate markers of tumor progression, and defining epigenetic and environmental influences on tumorigenesis.
David H. Gutmann, Kim Hunter-Schaedle, Kevin M. Shannon
Sydney Ringer would be overwhelmed today by the implications of his simple experiment performed over 120 years ago showing that the heart would not beat in the absence of Ca2+. Fascination with the role of Ca2+ has proliferated into all aspects of our understanding of normal cardiac function and the progression of heart disease, including induction of cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure, and sudden death. This review examines the role of Ca2+ and the L-type voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels in cardiac disease.
Ilona Bodi, Gabor Mikala, Sheryl E. Koch, Shahab A. Akhter, Arnold Schwartz
Over the last decade, an abundance of evidence has emerged demonstrating a close link between metabolism and immunity. It is now clear that obesity is associated with a state of chronic low-level inflammation. In this article, we discuss the molecular and cellular underpinnings of obesity-induced inflammation and the signaling pathways at the intersection of metabolism and inflammation that contribute to diabetes. We also consider mechanisms through which the inflammatory response may be initiated and discuss the reasons for the inflammatory response in obesity. We put forth for consideration some hypotheses regarding important unanswered questions in the field and suggest a model for the integration of inflammatory and metabolic pathways in metabolic disease.
Kathryn E. Wellen, Gökhan S. Hotamisligil
Type 1 diabetes is the result of an autoimmune attack against the insulin-producing β cells of the endocrine pancreas. Current treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes typically involves a rigorous and invasive regimen of testing blood glucose levels many times a day along with subcutaneous injections of recombinant DNA–derived insulin. Islet transplantation, even with its substantially improved outcome in recent years, is still not indicated for pediatric patients. However, in light of the fact that some regenerative capabilities of the endocrine pancreas have been documented and recent research has shown that human ES cell lines can be derived in vitro, this review discusses whether it is practical or even possible to combine these lines of research to more effectively treat young diabetic patients.
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