UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Unique new brain imaging study at UCL aimed at unlocking a new approach in neurodegenerative disease

2 December 2015

A new study led by UCL, in collaboration with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and Imanova has started at the Leonard Wolfson Experimental Neurology Centre (LWENC) and Dementia Research Centre (DRC) at the UCL Institute of Neurology to research the role of inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.

The Pilot Longitudinal Study in Alzheimer’s Disease of Central Markers of Microglial Activation (PADMMA) study is a two-year study in 20 patients from UCLH that will assess, using PET imaging, the prevalence and pattern of activation of a specific type of cell, called microglia, in the central nervous system (CNS) in people with certain symptoms of neurodegenerative disease. 

The role of inflammation is key in the field of neurodegeneration, resulting in some of the most devastating neurodegenerative diseases. Microglia play a central role in neuro-inflammation, and defining reliable biomarkers of microglial activation, and their changes over time, will provide crucial information for developing treatment trials with neuro-inflammation as a novel therapeutic target.

This is a very exciting new direction. The insights into the role of microglial activation provided by the study will facilitate the development of reliable central and peripheral clinical markers of inflammation early on in Alzheimer's disease, potentially providing tools to assess the impact of drugs on a new therapeutic target.Dr Catherine Mummery, Consultant Neurologist and Clinical Trials Lead at the DRC

At UCL all protocol-defined patient assessments will be undertaken at the LWENC Clinical Research Facility for which Dr Vincenzo Libri, consultant in Clinical Pharmacology, is Head and also Co-Investigator of the PADMMA study. All brain imaging will be performed at the Imanova Centre for Imaging Sciences, led by Dr Eugenii Rabiner, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Imaging Applications at Imanova.

This unique study is the result of an extensive collaborative effort supported by the UK Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Israel - helping Imanova, Teva and UCL, come together in an effort to change the paradigm in neurodegenerative disease.

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