This month's Leading Edge (Rabies: what can neurologists do?) outlines a number of ways in which neurologists can help both to reduce the number of rabies deaths and to ensure that more accurate epidemiological data can be obtained in the future.
The placebo effect in neurological disorders
Recent evidence suggests that the placebo effect is mediated by the dopaminergic reward mechanisms in the human brain and that it is related to the expectation of clinical benefit. On the basis of this theory, Raul de la Fuente-Fernndez, Michael Schulzer, and A Jon Stoessl (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada) review the evidence for a placebo effect in Parkinson's disease, depression, pain, and other neurological disorders. They also discuss the evidence for the use of placebos in long-term substitution programmes for the treatment of drug addiction.
Treatment of neural injury with marrow stromal cells
Michael Chopp and Yi Li (Henry Ford Health Sciences Center, Detroit, MI) describe their preclinical studies on the use of bone-marrow stromal cells in the treatment of neural injury. These cells have been transplanted directly into the brain or administered intra-arterially or intravenously. The authors conclude: "Given the robust therapeutic benefit of these cells in the treatment of neural injury, and the fact that marrow stromal cells have been used in the treatment of other human disease, there is justification for further preclinical studies leading to clinical trials for the treatment of neural injury such as stroke."