UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Experimental Neuroinflammation Group

Our primary research focus is multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the brain and spinal cord. MS is typically diagnosed in early adulthood and although the disease course is very variable, it can progress over decades to cause a range of serious neurological deficits, including effects on vision, movement and sensation. The disease is characterized by inflammation within the brain and spinal cord, demyelination (loss of the insulating layer of myelin from around nerve fibres), and neuronal and axonal degeneration. Each type of pathology causes significant symptoms, by different mechanisms.

Our research aims to understand the mechanisms responsible for the disease, in order to arrest them and thereby avoid the production of symptoms even before they have started. Our recent research has focused on the reduction in blood flow through inflamed tissue which reduces the supply of the oxygen needed to maintain function and avoid tissue damage. We have shown that appropriately timed treatments to maintain tissue oxygenation can provide remarkable protection from symptoms and damage. Indeed, we have advanced studies from the earliest laboratory observations of previously unsuspected mechanisms, to devise at least one novel treatment strategy that has been proven effective in neuroprotection in clinical trial. 

A second major line of research concerns cerebral small vessel disease, which becomes common with ageing, and is a major cause of strokes and dementia. The disease affects arterioles, capillaries and venules and causes a reduction in blood flow, and impaired regulation of blood flow. Our research explores the importance of inadequate tissue oxygenation in causing symptoms and damage, and also the therapeutic value of drugs that promote blood flow and oxygenation in achieving protection of cognitive function and tissue integrity.