The Neuroscience of Creativity: A Q&A with Anna Abraham

What is going on in our brains when we are creating? How does our brain look different when we are engaging in art versus science? How does the brain of genius creators differ from the rest of us? What are some of the limitations of studying the creative brain? The neuroscience of creativity is booming. There is now a society (with an annual conference), an edited volume, a handbook, and now an entire textbook on the topic. Bringing the latest research together from a number of scientists, Anna Abraham wrote a wonderful resource that covers some of the most hot button topics in the field. She was gracious enough to do a Q & A with me. Enjoy.

Spotlight

Bio-protocol

Bio-protocol (ISSN: 2331-8325) is an e-journal created in 2011 by a group of Stanford researchers. Our mission is to make life science research more efficient and reproducible by curating high quality, open-access, life science protocols. We differ from other journals and online protocol depositories in a number of ways. We are free to publish with and we are free to use. Our protocols are of the highest quality because publication is by invitation only, and all of our articles undergo extensive peer review to ensure reproducibility.

OTHER ARTICLES
Research

Next-Gen Genetics Cancer Therapies Creating Investment Prospects

Article | July 11, 2022

Genetic therapeutics such as genetic engineering and gene therapy are increasingly emerging as one of the most influential and transformed biotechnological solutions around the globe in recent times. These genetic solutions are being assessed across various medical domains, including cancer treatment, neurology, oncology, and ophthalmology. Citing the trend, the genetics industry is estimated to experience a tsunami of approvals, with over 1,000 cell and gene therapy clinical trials currently underway and over 900 companies worldwide focusing on these cutting-edge therapies. Growing Cancer Encourages Advancements in Genetic Technologies With the surging cases of cancers such as leukemias, carcinomas, lymphomas, and others, patients worldwide are increasing their spending on adopting novel therapeutic solutions for non-recurring treatment of the disease, such as gene therapy, genetic engineering, T-cell therapy, and gene editing. As per a study by the Fight Cancer Organization, spending on the treatment of cancer increased to $200.7 billion, and the amount is anticipated to exceed $245 billion by the end of 2030. Growing revenue prospects are encouraging biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies to develop novel genetic solutions for cancer treatment. For instance, Bristol-Myers Squibb K.K., a Japanese pharmaceutical company, introduced a B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, Abecma, for the treatment of relapsed or refractory (R/R) multiple myeloma in 2022. Amid a New Market: Genetics Will Attract Massive Investments Despite several developments and technological advancements, genetics is still considered to be in a nascent stage, providing significant prospects for growth to the companies that are already operating in the domain. Genetics solutions such as gene therapies, gene editing, and T-cell immunotherapy are emerging as highly active treatments across various medical fields, resulting in increasing research and development activities across the domain, drawing significant attention from investors. Given the potential of genetic treatments and the focus on finding new ways to treat cancer and other related diseases, it's easy to understand why companies are investing in the domain. For instance, Pfizer has recently announced an investment of around $800 million to construct development facilities supporting gene therapy manufacturing from initial preclinical research through final commercial-scale production. Due to these advancements, cell and gene therapies are forecast to grow from $4 billion annually to more than $45 billion, exhibiting growth at a 63% CAGR. The Future of Genetics Though there is a significant rise in advancement in genetic technologies and developments, the number of approved genetic treatments remains extremely small. However, with gene transfer and CRISPR solutions emerging as new modalities for cancer treatment, the start-up companies will attract a growing amount and proportion of private and public investments. This is expected present a tremendous opportunity for biopharma and biotechnology investors to help fund and benefit from the medical industry's shift from traditional treatments to cutting-edge genetic therapeutics in the coming years.

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MedTech

Better Purification and Recovery in Bioprocessing

Article | July 20, 2022

In the downstream portion of any bioprocess, one must pick through the dross before one can seize the gold the biotherapeutic that the bioprocess was always meant to generate. Unfortunately, the dross is both voluminous and various. And the biotherapeutic gold, unlike real gold, is corruptible. That is, it can suffer structural damage and activity loss. When discarding the dross and collecting the gold, bioprocessors must be efficient and gentle. They must, to the extent possible, eliminate contaminants and organic debris while ensuring that biotherapeutics avoid aggregation-inducing stresses and retain their integrity during purification and recovery. Anything less compromises purity and reduces yield. To purify and recover biotherapeutics efficiently and gently, bioprocessors must avail themselves of the most appropriate tools and techniques. Here, we talk with several experts about which tools and techniques can help bioprocessors overcome persistent challenges. Some of these experts also touch on new approaches that can help bioprocessors address emerging challenges.

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MedTech

Laboratory Information Management System for Biotech Labs: Significance & Benefits

Article | July 12, 2022

If you have ever visited the testing laboratory of a large biotechnology company, you will be aware that managing the laboratory's operations single-handedly is no easy task. The greater the size of a lab, the more research and testing activities it must accommodate. A variety of diagnostic tests are prescribed for patients in order to detect various diseases. For example, it may include blood glucose testing for diabetics, lipid panel, or liver panel tests for evaluating cardiac risk and liver function, cultures for diagnosing infections, thyroid function tests, and others. Laboratory management solutions such as laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and other software play a significant role in managing various operational data at biotech laboratories. It is one of the important types of software developed to address thedata management and regulatory challenges of laboratories. The software enhances the operational efficiency of biotech labs by streamlining workflows, proper record-keeping, and eradicating the need for manually maintaining data. What Are the Benefits of Laboratory Information Management Software in Biotechnology? As the trends of digitization and technology continue to create deeper inroads into the biotechnology sector, a significant rise in the adoption of innovative medical software solutions, such as LIMS, is being witnessed for managing research data, testing reports, and post-research results globally. Here are a few reasons that are encouraging biotech facilities to adopt LIMS solutions Real-Time Data Collection and Tracking Previously, collecting and transporting samples was a tedious and time-consuming task. However, the adoption of LIMS with innovative tracking modules has made the job easier. The real-time sample tracking feature of LIMS has made it possible for personnel to collect the research data in real-time and manage and control the workflow with a few mouse clicks on the screen. Increase Revenue LIMS makes it possible to test workflows while giving users complete control over the testing process. A laboratory is able to collect data, schedule equipment maintenance or upgrades, enhance operational efficiency, and maintain a lower overhead with the help of the LIMS, thereby increasing revenue. Streamlined Workflow With its completion monitoring, LIMS speeds up laboratory workflows and keeps track of information. It assigns tasks to the specialist along with keeping a real-time track of the status and completion of each task. LIMS is integrated into the laboratory using lab information, which ultimately speeds up internal processes and streamlines the workflow. Automatic Data Exchange LIMS solutions store data in a centralized database. Automated transfer of data between departments and organizations is one of the major features of LIMS. Through its automated information exchange feature, LIMS improves internal operations, decreases the reporting time for data sharing, and assists in faster decision-making. Final Thoughts As the healthcare sector continues to ride the wave of digital transformation, biotech laboratories are emphasizing adopting newer technologies to keep up with the changes. Citing this trend, laboratory information management systems are becoming crucial for biotech and medical organizations for maintaining research data, instant reporting, and managing confidential, inventory, and financial data with centralized data storage.

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Medical

Nanostructures: Emerging as Effective Carriers for Drug Delivery

Article | July 14, 2022

Natural remedies have been employed in medicine since antiquity. However, a large number of them fail to go past the clinical trial stages. In vivo instability, poor solubility and bioavailability, a lack of target-specific delivery, poor absorption, and side effects of the medication are only a few of the problems caused by the use of large-sized materials in drug administration. Therefore, adopting novel drug delivery systems with targeted medications may be a solution to address these pressing problems. Nanotechnology has received tremendous attention in recent years and has been demonstrated to help blur the boundaries between the biological and physical sciences. With great success, it plays a vital part in enhanced medication formulations, targeted venues, and controlled drug release and delivery. Limitations of Traditional Delivery Trigger the Adoption of Nanoparticles The field of nanotechnology and the creation of drug formulations based on nanoparticles is one that is expanding and showcasing great potential. It has been thoroughly researched in an effort to develop new methods of diagnosis and treatment and to overcome the limitations of several diseases' current therapies. As a result, nanoparticles are being used to improve the therapeutic effectiveness and boost patient adherence to treatment by increasing medication bioavailability, drug accumulation at a particular spot, and reducing drug adverse effects. The nanoparticles could be transformed into intelligent systems housing therapeutic and imaging agents by manipulating their surface properties, size, correct drug load, and release with targeted drug delivery. Nanostructures facilitate the release of combination medications at the prescribed dose since they remain in the blood circulation system for a long time. Therefore, they result in fewer plasma fluctuations with decreased side effects. Due to their nanoscale, these structures can easily enter the tissue system, promote the absorption of drugs by cells, make medication administration more effective, and ensure that the medicine acts at the targeted location. The Way Ahead Nanomedicine and nano-delivery systems are a comparatively new but fast-evolving science in which nanoscale materials are used as diagnostic tools to deliver drug molecules at precisely targeted sites in a controlled manner. It is finding applications for the treatment of diseases such as cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, cancer, ocular, AIDS, and diabetes, among others. With more research and technological advancement, these drug delivery solutions will open up huge opportunities for companies that work with them.

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Spotlight

Bio-protocol

Bio-protocol (ISSN: 2331-8325) is an e-journal created in 2011 by a group of Stanford researchers. Our mission is to make life science research more efficient and reproducible by curating high quality, open-access, life science protocols. We differ from other journals and online protocol depositories in a number of ways. We are free to publish with and we are free to use. Our protocols are of the highest quality because publication is by invitation only, and all of our articles undergo extensive peer review to ensure reproducibility.

Related News

Neurocrine Biosciences and Xenon Launch Up-to-$1.7B Epilepsy, Neuroscience Collaboration

GEN | December 02, 2019

Neurocrine Biosciences has agreed to exclusively license and co-develop Xenon Pharmaceuticals’ Phase I epilepsy candidate XEN901 as a treatment for children—as well as develop three preclinical compounds, the companies said today—through a collaboration that could generate up to $1.7 billion for Xenon. XEN901 is designed as a highly selective Nav1.6 sodium channel inhibitor being developed to treat children with SCN8A developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (SCN8A-DEE) and other potential indications, including adult focal epilepsy. Xenon has completed a Phase I trial of a powder-in-capsule formulation of XEN901 in healthy adults. However, Xenon has also developed a pediatric-specific, granule formulation of XEN901, and has completed juvenile toxicology studies intended to support pediatric development of the drug candidate. “With its proven expertise in developing and commercializing treatments for neurological disorders, we believe Neurocrine Biosciences is an ideal partner to maximize the potential value of XEN901 for patients,” Xenon CEO Simon Pimstone, MD, PhD, FRCPC, said in a statement.

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Using Machine Learning To Reveal How the Brain Encodes Memories

Technology Networks | November 28, 2019

Researchers working in The N.1 Institute for Health at NUS, led by Assistant Professor Camilo Libedinsky from NUS Psychology, and Senior Lecturer Shih-Cheng Yen from the Innovation and Design Programme at NUS Engineering, have discovered that a population of neurons in the brain’s frontal lobe contain stable short-term memory information within dynamically-changing neural activity. This discovery may have far-reaching consequences in understanding how organisms have the ability to perform multiple mental operations simultaneously, such as remembering, paying attention and making a decision, using a brain of limited size. In the human brain, the frontal lobe plays an important role in processing short-term memories. Short-term memory has a low capacity to retain information. “It can usually only hold six to eight items. Think for example about our ability to remember a phone number for a few seconds – that uses short-term memory,” Libendisky explained.

Read More

Researchers Uncovered a New Mechanism of Neurodegeneration

Technology Networks | November 22, 2019

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is an inherited neurodegenerative condition that affects 1 in 2500 individuals. Currently, however, it is still lacking effective treatment options. New research has demonstrated that a class of cytoplasmic enzymes called tRNA synthetases can cause CMT by interfering with the gene transcription in the nucleus. This breakthrough is the result of an international academic collaboration, where scientists from the VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology and the Scripps Research Institute were the driving force. The study was published in the leading journal Nature Communications. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a condition that affects the peripheral nervous system. It leads to progressive muscle weakness and loss of sensation in the lower and - later on - upper limbs. It is the most commonly inheritable neuromuscular disorder and, at the moment, remains incurable. The first symptoms can appear both in early childhood or during adult life. Over 90 genes are implicated in the pathology so far and these are involved in a variety of processes. This complexity makes it a difficult condition to study and find a treatment for.

Read More

Neurocrine Biosciences and Xenon Launch Up-to-$1.7B Epilepsy, Neuroscience Collaboration

GEN | December 02, 2019

Neurocrine Biosciences has agreed to exclusively license and co-develop Xenon Pharmaceuticals’ Phase I epilepsy candidate XEN901 as a treatment for children—as well as develop three preclinical compounds, the companies said today—through a collaboration that could generate up to $1.7 billion for Xenon. XEN901 is designed as a highly selective Nav1.6 sodium channel inhibitor being developed to treat children with SCN8A developmental and epileptic encephalopathy (SCN8A-DEE) and other potential indications, including adult focal epilepsy. Xenon has completed a Phase I trial of a powder-in-capsule formulation of XEN901 in healthy adults. However, Xenon has also developed a pediatric-specific, granule formulation of XEN901, and has completed juvenile toxicology studies intended to support pediatric development of the drug candidate. “With its proven expertise in developing and commercializing treatments for neurological disorders, we believe Neurocrine Biosciences is an ideal partner to maximize the potential value of XEN901 for patients,” Xenon CEO Simon Pimstone, MD, PhD, FRCPC, said in a statement.

Read More

Using Machine Learning To Reveal How the Brain Encodes Memories

Technology Networks | November 28, 2019

Researchers working in The N.1 Institute for Health at NUS, led by Assistant Professor Camilo Libedinsky from NUS Psychology, and Senior Lecturer Shih-Cheng Yen from the Innovation and Design Programme at NUS Engineering, have discovered that a population of neurons in the brain’s frontal lobe contain stable short-term memory information within dynamically-changing neural activity. This discovery may have far-reaching consequences in understanding how organisms have the ability to perform multiple mental operations simultaneously, such as remembering, paying attention and making a decision, using a brain of limited size. In the human brain, the frontal lobe plays an important role in processing short-term memories. Short-term memory has a low capacity to retain information. “It can usually only hold six to eight items. Think for example about our ability to remember a phone number for a few seconds – that uses short-term memory,” Libendisky explained.

Read More

Researchers Uncovered a New Mechanism of Neurodegeneration

Technology Networks | November 22, 2019

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is an inherited neurodegenerative condition that affects 1 in 2500 individuals. Currently, however, it is still lacking effective treatment options. New research has demonstrated that a class of cytoplasmic enzymes called tRNA synthetases can cause CMT by interfering with the gene transcription in the nucleus. This breakthrough is the result of an international academic collaboration, where scientists from the VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology and the Scripps Research Institute were the driving force. The study was published in the leading journal Nature Communications. Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is a condition that affects the peripheral nervous system. It leads to progressive muscle weakness and loss of sensation in the lower and - later on - upper limbs. It is the most commonly inheritable neuromuscular disorder and, at the moment, remains incurable. The first symptoms can appear both in early childhood or during adult life. Over 90 genes are implicated in the pathology so far and these are involved in a variety of processes. This complexity makes it a difficult condition to study and find a treatment for.

Read More

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