Neuroscience

The number of people with neurological disease in the UK is rising. This is due both to advances in patient care and treatment and to the fact that our population is getting older.

Many people with neurological disorders have life-long disability. This impacts on their quality of life and comes with a considerable cost to the NHS.

This theme aims to develop new approaches to reduce the impact on patients’ health and well-being of neurological disorders, such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), stroke and acute brain injury.

Together with our Mental Health and Dementia & Neurodegenerative themes, it makes up the Brain and Mind Health super-theme. Researchers from all three themes are pooling their expertise and sharing tools to ensure that more research into brain disorders is translated (or applied) in clinics.

In the neuroscience theme we are focussing on the following areas:

  • deep phenotyping of patients (where we record their observable symptoms);
  • stratification (when clinicians divide patients with similar biological characteristics into groups so they can receive tailored treatments and therapies);
  • identifying the genes that cause disease; and finally
  • using all this information to develop new drugs and treatments.

The theme’s research programmes are world-leading and we are accelerating the discovery of new treatments; our research has already had an impact on how neurological diseases are treated. Two examples include:

  • The development of the drug Alemtuzumab for relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS), which showed itself to be more effective and less expensive than existing similar treatments for patients with severe RRMS.
  • The development of the drug Idebenone for the mitochondrial disease Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), which is inherited blindness. There are many forms of mitochondrial disease, which occurs when the mitochondria (or ‘powerhouses’) in cells fail to produce enough energy for cells to function. Mitochondrial disease is progressive (gets worse over time) and there is no known cure.

Watch a one minute video of Professor Patrick Chinnery talking about neuroscience research