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A major European project, led by the University of Sheffield, will develop sophisticated image-based biophysical models of the human brain to enable early diagnosis of dementia and help doctors predict the progression of the disease.
The project will be the first to combine a wide range of physiological data from medical imaging – such as blood flow, brain tissue properties and cellular activity – with psychological measures such as memory and cognitive function. It will also bring in demographic, genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors, making it much more sensitive than existing diagnostic tools.
The aim is to develop a way for doctors to identify at an early stage – before obvious symptoms appear – not only whether a patient has or is developing dementia, but which form of dementia it is. Diagnosis of the most common form of dementia – Alzheimer’s – in the UK still takes an average of 32 months after symptoms are first noticed compared to 20 months in Europe as a whole.
Currently clinicians rely on basic cognitive tests and conventional brain scans for diagnosis of dementia but these are not sufficiently sensitive to indentify the disease at an early stage. This project’s aim is to identify a much wider range of markers which provide better and earlier diagnosis, which in turn would help applying interventions at a time when it is possible to delay the progression of the disease. This would be not only improving patients’ quality of life, but it would also reduce the burden on carers and the enormous costs of supporting people with advanced dementia.
The research in Sheffield will involve staff from the University’s Faculty of Engineering and Professor Annalena Venneri and Professor Iain Wilkinson from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, in collaboration with staff at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
A postdoctoral scientist from the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) is awarded a prestigious Senior Research Fellowship by Parkinson’s UK.
Dr Heather Mortiboys is the sole recipient of this year’s Senior Research Fellowship from Parkinson’s UK. Heather has worked in the field of Parkinson’s Disease for the past 12 years beginning her research career at the Max Planck Institute for Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany after which she moved to the University of Sheffield to continue her work investigating mitochondrial health in Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease with the most striking symptoms being that of movement impairment. Parkinson’s UK is a charity which supports people with Parkinson’s Disease and their carers as well as raising money in order to support valuable research aimed at finding a cure for the condition (www.parkinsons.org.uk).
Dr James Hensman, who is a post-doc in SITraN and Computer Science, has been awarded an MRC fellowship in biostatistics to study mathematical aspects of RNA sequencing.
James has worked in the cross-disciplinary group within SITraN for two years with Professor Neil Lawrence, advancing the use of probabilistic models of gene expression data from microarrays. High throughput sequencing of RNA (RNA-Seq) has the potential to unlock many secrets of the transcriptome, including alternative splicing of genes which is implicated by current studies in motor neurone disease.
James’ research fits well with current directions in the department of Neuroscience, SITraN has recently commissioned a sequencing machine. Development of probabilistic models of splicing and gene expression will give other researchers in the department and beyond the statistical tools to investigate transcriptome related phenomena in diseases, from data generated by such machines. The award strengthens the integration of the machine-learning and biostatistics group within SITraN.
More than 200 international scientists and clinicians who are working to find a cure for the devastating neurodegenerative condition Motor Neurone Disease (MND) recently gathered at the Sheffield City Hall for the 11th annual meeting of the European Network for the Cure of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ENCALS).
Over 6,000 people in the UK suffer from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as MND. The incurable disease destroys the cells which control movement causing progressive disability. Sufferers may lose their ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe, and at present treatment options for the protection of motor neurones have only a modest effect. More effective therapies are urgently needed.
The Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience directed by Professor Pam Shaw hosted the three day ENCALS event from Friday 31st May 2013 to Sunday 2nd June 2013 at the Sheffield City Hall. This important annual European meeting aims to bring together the key MND research groups to share their latest research and knowledge.
More than 200 international scientists and clinicians who are fighting to find a cure for the devastating degenerative condition Motor Neurone Disease (MND) will gather in Sheffield for a world leading event.
The pioneering Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) is hosting the 11th annual meeting of the European Network for the Cure of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – also known as MND. Over 6,000 people in the UK suffer from MND. The incurable disease destroys the cells which control movement causing progressive disability. Sufferers may lose their ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe, and at present treatment options for the protection of motor neurones have only a modest effect. More effective therapies are urgently needed.
The three day European Network for the Cure of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ENCALS) event is an important annual European meeting that aims to bring together the key MND research groups to share their latest research and knowledge. Professor Pam Shaw, Director of SITraN and Consultant Neurologist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “It is a great honour and pleasure to be hosting the 11th ENCALS meeting in the heart of Sheffield.
"The meeting is a wonderful event to showcase the latest research discoveries on MND from all the major centres in Europe and to encourage young clinicians and scientists into the field of MND research. I am certain that all the delegates and our guest professors from the USA will greatly enjoy South Yorkshire hospitality”
This year's meeting, which will take place at Sheffield City Hall from Friday 31 May – Sunday 2 June 2013, includes two speakers who are renowned MND investigators from the USA, Professor Stanley Appel and Professor Clive Svendsen alongside Professor Pam Shaw and Dr Christopher McDermott from SITraN.
The world renowned event also provides an important platform for the next generation of MND researchers to present their work to leading international scientists. Dr Emily Goodall is amongst four investigators from SITraN showcasing her pioneering work.
Motor Neurone Disease