Contact Information:

Media Contact

Marcus Neitzert
marcus.neitzert@dzne.de
49-228-433-02271

Twitter: dzne_en

http://www.dzne.de/




Kredyty mieszkaniowe Kredyty mieszkaniowe

Sprawdź aktualny ranking najlepszych kredytów mieszkaniowych w Polsce - atrakcyjne kredytowanie nieruchomości.

PRESS-NEWS.org - Press Release Distribution
FREE PRESS RELEASES DISTRIBUTION
RSS - Press News Release
Add Press Release

Mystery of polar bear Knut's disease finally solved

The animal suffered from an autoimmune disease previously known only in humans


2015-08-27
(Press-News.org) Knut, the famous polar bear of the Berlin Zoological Garden (Germany) died of encephalitis, as diagnosed soon after his death. However, the cause of his disease has remained elusive until now. A team of scientists from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the Charite - Universitaetsmedizin Berlin has now solved the case: The polar bear suffered from an autoimmune disease of the brain. This non-infectious illness is called "anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis", with symptoms in human patients similar to those displayed by Knut. Knut is the first wild or domestic animal in which this form of encephalitis has been demonstrated. The results were reported in the scientific journal "Scientific Reports". The authors propose that errant immune responses may be associated with brain diseases more commonly than previously assumed.

Knut was a favourite with the public across the world and became well known far beyond the borders of Berlin. The polar bear drowned on 19th March 2011 after suffering epileptic seizures and falling into the enclosure pool. Scientists under the leadership of the IZW intensively investigated the potential causes of Knut's death and revealed that the seizures were caused by encephalitis, suspecting an infection by an unknown pathogen. The exact cause of the disease remained a mystery.

Cooperation of neuroscientists and wildlife researchers

Dr Harald Pruess, who is a researcher at the Berlin site of the DZNE and a specialist in neurology at the Charite, read the autopsy report and discovered parallels to his own studies on human brain diseases. The neuroscientist contacted Prof Alex Greenwood, leader of the Department of Wildlife Diseases at the IZW. Could it be possible that Knut might have suffered from an autoimmune disease of the brain? The two scientists quickly agreed to follow up this line of research together. Greenwood, head of the primary study on Knut, had considered that there might be non-infectious cause of disease, but until the collaboration with Pruess there was no real possibility to test for this class of diseases in wild animals. The IZW had stored samples of the polar bear's brain which were now used for analysis.

"This study provided us with the possibility to extend and refine our test methods", says Pruess. The analysis revealed that the polar bear had developed "anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis". In the tissue samples of the animal, the scientists demonstrated the presence of NMDA-receptor antibodies, the characteristic proteins for this encephalitis.

"Until now, this autoimmune disease has only been known in humans. In this illness, the body's immune system overreacts and produces antibodies which damage nerve cells instead of fighting against pathogens", Pruess explains. "Epileptic seizures, hallucinations and dementia are among the possible symptoms."

Until recently unknown

These diseases were discovered only a few years ago. According to Pruess, until recently, patients with encephalitis for which viruses or bacteria were not identified as causative agent remained undiagnosed, and their origin a mystery. "In the past few years, the number of unsolved cases has decreased considerably. Since 2010, we have known that the majority of patients with encephalitis of unknown etiology are suffering from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, once infectious causes were ruled out. There are now standard tests to diagnose the disease", says the neuroscientist. "In humans this disease is relatively responsive to medical treatment."

"We were quite intrigued by this result", comments IZW scientist Greenwood on this discovery. "The anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis has been described only very recently in humans. Clearly it is also of importance for other mammals. We are relieved to have finally solved the mystery of Knut's disease, especially as these insights could have practical applications. If the current therapy for human patients is also suitable for wild animals, many cases of fatal encephalitis in zoos may be prevented in future."

Antibody tests in dementia patients

"Knut's disease has further implications. It is possible that autoimmune diseases of the nervous system might be far more common in humans and other mammals than previously assumed", says Greenwood.

"We might underdiagnose autoimmune inflammations in human patients suffering psychoses or memory disturbances, because these patients are not routinely screened for associated antibodies. As a result they may not receive the optimal treatment. Therefore, I believe it is reasonable to examine patients for associated antibodies, especially if the cause of a dementia is unknown. These antibodies can be held in check by pharmaceutical means. There are also other forms of encephalitis, where errant antibodies against other receptor molecules are important in disease development", comments DZNE researcher Pruess.

"The research results are an important contribution to understanding autoimmune diseases of the nervous systems in animals. One can only congratulate the scientists of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and the Charite - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. They have made it possible that in the future, diseases in animals similar to Knut's could be diagnosed earlier and treated", says Dr Andreas Knieriem, Director of the Berlin Zoological Garden.

INFORMATION:

Original publication Pruess H, Leubner J, Wenke NK, Czirjak GA, Szentiks CA, Greenwood AD (2015): Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis in the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) Knut. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, doi: 10.1038/srep12805.


ELSE PRESS RELEASES FROM THIS DATE:

Astronomers unravel the history of galaxies for the first time

2015-08-27
A team of international scientists, led by astronomers from Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy, has shown for the first time that galaxies can change their structure over the course of their lifetime. By observing the sky as it is today, and peering back in time using the Hubble and Herschel telescopes, the team have shown that a large proportion of galaxies have undergone a major 'metamorphosis' since they were initially formed after the Big Bang. By providing the first direct evidence of the extent of this transformation, the team hope to shed light ...

At the origin of language structure

2015-08-27
Subject, verb, object: a triad that in spoken discourse (as well as written) can be arranged in different positions (six, in principle) although in the overwhelming majority of world languages, 86%, they occur in two forms: SVO ("Johnny eats the banana") and SOV ("Johnny the banana eats"). In particular, the latter is the most common and scientific literature supports the hypothesis that it is a basic form, perhaps the first to emerge when a new language or communication system is born. To back this up is the fact that over the course of history many languages have passed ...

UEA research shows high protein foods boost cardiovascular health

2015-08-27
Eating foods rich in amino acids could be as good for your heart as stopping smoking or getting more exercise - according to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA). A new study published today reveals that people who eat high levels of certain amino acids found in meat and plant-based protein have lower blood pressure and arterial stiffness. And the magnitude of the association is similar to those previously reported for lifestyle risk factors including salt intake, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking. Researchers investigated the effect ...

MDC and MHH researchers show how dynamin mediates membrane constriction and scission

2015-08-27
Cells continually form membrane vesicles that are released into the cell. If this vital process is disturbed, nerve cells, for example, cannot communicate with each other. The protein molecule dynamin is essential for the regulated formation and release of many vesicles. Scientists of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) and the Institute for Biophysical Chemistry of Hannover Medical School (MHH), together with researchers from the Freie Universität Berlin and the Leibniz-Institut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), ...

Study finds fair trade logo boosts consumer's willingness to pay

Study finds fair trade logo boosts consumers willingness to pay
2015-08-27
Products labeled with a Fair Trade logo cause prospective buyers to dig deeper into their pockets. In an experiment conducted at the University of Bonn, participants were willing to pay on average 30 percent more for ethically produced goods, compared to their conventionally produced counterparts. The neuroscientists analyzed the neural pathways involved in processing products with a Fair Trade emblem. They identified a potential mechanism that explains why Fair Trade products are evaluated more positively. For instance, activity in the brain's reward center increases and ...

Humus depletion induced by climate change?

2015-08-27
This news release is available in German. The yields of many important crops in Europe have been stagnating since the 1990s. As a result, the input of organic matter into the soil - the crucial source for humus formation - is decreasing. Scientists from the Technical University Munich (TUM) suspect that the humus stocks of arable soils are declining due to the influence of climate change. Humus, however, is a key factor for soil functionality, which is why this development poses a threat to agricultural production - and, moreover, in a worldwide context. In their ...

Differences in brain structure and memory suggest adolescents may not 'grow out of' ADHD

2015-08-27
Young adults diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adolescence show differences in brain structure and perform poorly in memory tests compared to their peers, according to new research from the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Oulu, Finland. The findings, published today in the journal European Child Adolescent Psychiatry, suggest that aspects of ADHD may persist into adulthood, even when current diagnostic criteria fail to identify the disorder. ADHD is a disorder characterised by short attention span, restlessness and ...

Health workers wasting expensive malaria drugs in Nigeria

2015-08-27
This news release is available in French and Portuguese. Health providers trained to perform malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) are still prescribing valuable malaria medicines to patients who do not have malaria, according to new research published in PLOS ONE. Almost 5,000 participants from 40 communities took part in the study, at a variety of public health facilities, pharmacies and drug stores in the Nigerian state of Enugu. Despite the three different training interventions that they received and their satisfaction with the courses and materials, rates of ...

How the mind sharpens the senses

2015-08-27
A study conducted with experienced scholars of Zen-Meditation shows that mental focussing can induce learning mechanisms, similar to physical training. Researchers at the Ruhr-University Bochum and the Ludwig-Maximilians-University München discovered this phenomenon during a scientifically monitored meditation retreat. The journal Scientific Reports, from the makers of Nature, has now published their new findings on the plasticity of the brain. Participants of the study use a special meditation technique The participants were all Zen-scholars with many years of ...

HIV testing among older adults is declining, despite CDC recommendation

2015-08-27
Researchers led by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health examined HIV testing trends among adults ages 50 through 64 both before and after 2006, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that most doctors automatically screen all patients for HIV regardless of whether they have symptoms. The researchers found that gains in HIV testing were not sustained over time. Levels of engagement in HIV risk behaviors remained constant, yet testing decreased among this age group from 5.5 percent in 2003 to 3.6 percent in 2006. It increased immediately ...

LAST 30 PRESS RELEASES:

How your brain decides blame and punishment -- and how it can be changed

Uniquely human brain region enables punishment decisions

Pinpointing punishment

Chapman University publishes research on attractiveness and mating

E-cigarettes: Special issue from Nicotine & Tobacco Research

Placental problems in early pregnancy associated with 5-fold increased risk of OB & fetal disorders

UT study: Invasive brood parasites a threat to native bird species

Criminals acquire guns through social connections

Restoring ocean health

Report: Cancer remains leading cause of death in US Hispanics

Twin study suggests genetic factors contribute to insomnia in adults

To be fragrant or not: Why do some male hairstreak butterflies lack scent organs?

International team discovers natural defense against HIV

Bolivian biodiversity observatory takes its first steps

Choice of college major influences lifetime earnings more than simply getting a degree

Dominant strain of drug-resistant MRSA decreases in hospitals, but persists in community

Synthetic biology needs robust safety mechanisms before real world application

US defense agencies increase investment in federal synthetic biology research

Robots help to map England's only deep-water Marine Conservation Zone

Mayo researchers identify protein -- may predict who will respond to PD-1 immunotherapy for melanoma

How much water do US fracking operations really use?

New approach to mammograms could improve reliability

The influence of citizen science grows despite some resistance

Unlocking secrets of how fossils form

What happens on the molecular level when smog gets into the lungs?

Using ultrasound to clean medical instruments

Platinum and iron oxide working together get the job done

Tiny silica particles could be used to repair damaged teeth, research shows

A quantum lab for everyone

No way? Charity's logo may influence perception of food in package

[Press-News.org] Mystery of polar bear Knut's disease finally solved
The animal suffered from an autoimmune disease previously known only in humans
Press-News.org is a service of DragonFly Company. All Rights Reserved.
Issuers of news releases are solely responsible for the accuracy of their content.