Neurodegenerative DiseasesFundamentals, Research Methods, Latest Advances

Launched October 2007 Updated February 2010 22 lectures
Prof. John Hodges
MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, UK

The neurodegenerative disorders represent collectively a leading cause of mortality and chronic disability in the developed world. For example, Alzheimer's disease is the major cause of dementia, at all ages, while Parkinson's disease is the leading cause of movement disorder seen in neurological practice. The last decade has seen an... read moreexplosion of clinical and scientific research into these diseases with significant advances on many fronts, particularly the discovery of single gene mutations (Presenilin and APP in Alzheimer's disease, tau in FTO, Parkin etc.) and a fuller understanding of the cellular and molecular pathology basis of these disorders. The fundamental cause of the majority of cases, which are sporadic, remains unknown but study of the rarer genetic forms has yielded important insights and led to the development of animal models which has created a 'test bed' for novel therapies.

On the clinical front there have been major advances in brain imaging which has improved early diagnosis and provides a means of tracking progress and the effect of interventions.

The talks will deal with the major neurodegenerative diseases notably Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and motor neurone disease .

The series is divided into four broad sections. The first covers clinical aspects with overviews of basic epidemiological facts, clinical features, natural history and prognosis of each of the neurodegenerative disorders. The second section surveys the contribution of structural and functional neuroimaging. The third section deals with pathology, genetic and molecular aspects of neurodegeneration. The fourth covers environmental factors in the pathogenesis and the final part deals with advances in immuno and cell-based therapies.