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- Landmark study tests whether immunotherapy drugs can prevent onset of symptoms in patients at high risk of developing Alzheimer’s
- UCL Institute of Neurology hosts inaugural Ada Lovelace Day event
- First human trial for innovative new drug in development to treat Huntington’s disease
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- Piepenbrock Group and German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases honour Professor Hardy
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- Novel conceptual framework for tackling the global challenge of dementia
- BRC funding for experimental medicine research projects
- Researchers identify genetic links between epilepsy and sudden death
- Landmark 69-year study to provide window into dementia
- Study of brain changes 20 years before hereditary dementia symptoms start
- Dopamine drugs affect risk taking behaviour and happiness
- Commonly prescribed drugs affect decisions to harm oneself and others
- Research reveals how the human brain might reconstruct past events
- Research into genetic influences on epilepsy and migraines
- Fast forwarding treatment for neurodegenerative disorders at LWENC
- Natural genetic variation gives complete resistance in prion diseases
- Professor Lees awarded ABN Medal 2015
- Professor Hardy elected member of EMBO
- Working with Saracens to monitor concussion in rugby
- Mutations in two novel genes cause primary dystonia
- A new genetic switch uncovered in the long genes expressed in our brain
- Professor Alan Thompson elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences
- UCL Institute of Neurology researchers awarded MRC fellowships
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- Behaviour changes common in early stage familial Alzheimer's
- Imaging shows early brain changes in FTD patients
- New test measures deadly protein in Huntington’s disease patients’ spinal fluid
- Professor Mary Reilly is elected to be the first female President of the Association of British Neurologists in 83 years
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- First major exhibition to explore BSE and its impact opens at Hayward Gallery
- Government pledges £300m for dementia research
- UCL awarded £10m to develop new dementia treatments
- BRC awards £700,000 to neuroscience projects
- Acute optic neuritis: a review and proposed protocol
- Teaching Awards 2015
New hope for cluster headache sufferers
24 December 2010
Patients who suffer from severe cluster headaches are being offered new hope thanks to a revolutionary treatment at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery (NHNN).
The pain of cluster headaches (CH) is notoriously excruciating and usually described as one of the most distressing conditions known to mankind. Female patients describe attacks as worse than childbirth and patients are occasionally driven to suicide. Attacks last between 15 minutes and three hours and can occur up to eight times a day.
For a small group of CH patients there has been no solution. Until now.
The treatment, known as deep brain stimulation, is already used to treat other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and dystonia. In CH patients, it is used to target a part of the brain (the posterior hypothalamus) which is overactive during the headaches. An electrode is inserted into the brain and linked to a stimulator under the chest. When the stimulator is switched on, an electric current passes into the brain, blocking the damaging signals that cause cluster headaches.
This new method of treating cluster headaches follows on from pioneering research at Queen Square, where the NHNN and the nearby Institute of Neurology at UCL are housed.
The research, which goes back a decade, pinpointed a particular region of the brain (the posterior hypothalamus) and studies revealed the presence of increased blood flow in this region during a cluster headache attack, a sure sign of increased activity.
Early pilot results of DBS in a small number of patients with unremitting chronic cluster headaches were very encouraging and this led two consultants, neurologist Manjit Matharu and neurosurgeon Ludvic Zrinzo to introduce the procedure at the NHNN.
Mr Matharu and Mr Zrinzo said: “We are really excited about the early indications from using DBS in this way. Patients who suffer from this excruciating condition come to us at their wits’ end and for many of them we are a last resort. Unless you have experienced cluster headaches you cannot underestimate the impact they have on the lives of sufferers and their families. If we can help them in any way it’s immensely rewarding,” they said.
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