UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


BRC funding for experimental medicine research projects

30 July 2015

UCL Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre have funded several research projects in the Neurosciences programme, including four from UCL Institute of Neurology:

  • Dr Orlando Swayne will assess the relationship between genetics and recovery in neurologically related disability.

Dr Swayne and his team plan to collect DNA from patients who are admitted to the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery for rehabilitation to create a database of information relating to their neurological recovery. The DNA will be tested for relevant variations and to determine what role these genes may play in the recovery process. In a subset of patients the team will also use a non-invasive testing method called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to measure individual patients’ capacity for neuroplasticity. TMS involves stimulating the brain using induced currents to measure the connection between the brain and a muscle to evaluate damage from stroke and other neurological illnesses.

The team anticipate that if they can establish a link between impaired neuroplasticity and poor recovery then this would provide the rationale for a subsequent trial of medication to enhance this and potentially improve recovery in this group of patients.

  • Dr Parashkev Nachev will capture real-time limb movement in stroke patients from data gathered from motion capture technology to optimise stroke care.

Dr Nachev and his team plan to develop a remote, low-cost, motion capture system for the Hyperacute Stroke Unit at UCLH, to help determine the functional status of patients after stroke. Based on Microsoft's Kinect 2 technology, the system automatically parameterises body movement and reports activity over time classified by limb and joint, allowing clinicians to monitor changes in focal neurological deficits during the patient's admission.

  • Dr Pedro Machado will carry out biomarker analysis in patients with Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM)

Dr Machado and his team plan to analyse blood samples for DNA, RNA or future biomarker analysis in a cohort of IBM patients.

Findings will be correlated with clinical features and disease progression to improve our understanding of IBM.

  • Dr Katie Sidle will investigate biomarkers to improve diagnosis of motor neurone diseases (MND).

Dr Sidle and her team will examine post-mortem MND tissue samples from the brain and spinal cord, along with detailed clinical histories, for the expression of known and newly discovered genetic mutations, proteins and abnormally folded proteins.

Well-characterised disease biomarkers could be utilised to enable rapid accurate diagnosis of MND and provide disease progression markers for measuring the effectiveness of treatments. On top of this, insights may be gained into biological mechanisms causing the damage and loss of motor neurone cells.

Further information