The Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS) was established in 2004. It is a multidisciplinary translational "centre without walls" combining basic and applied research to study the causes, consequences and treatment of major brain disorders. Our major disease targets, that straddle the disciplines of Neurology and Psychiatry, include: bipolar disorders, brain cancer, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, prion disease, schizophrenia, stroke and epilepsy.
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Welcome to new CCBS member Susan Shenkin
Susan Shenkin is a clinical academic in Geriatric Medicine. She was appointed as a Senior Clinical Lecturer in 2011, following clinical and academic training in Edinburgh, resulting in an MSc in Epidemiology and an MD (http://www.geriatric.med.ed.ac.uk/susan%20shenkin.htm). Her clinical work at Liberton hospital covers the range of older people's rehabilitation, with a particular interest in delirium and dementia in the acute hospital. Her research interests include: lifecourse influences (from prenatal, through childhood and later life) on cognition and cerebrovascular diseases in old age; what is normal in brain ageing – including the development of a normative brain image bank (see http://www.sinapse.ac.uk/research-resources/brains-project); and factors which predict outcomes in patients in the acute hospital with delirium and dementia. As well as CCBS, she is a member of the Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology (CCACE), and the Brain Research Imaging Centre (BRIC) and Scottish Imaging Network: A Platform for Scientific Excellence (SINAPSE) , reflecting the multidisciplinary nature of her research. She is enthusiastic about the role of systematic reviews in research (http://www.ccace.ed.ac.uk/research/software-resources/systematic-reviews-and-meta-analyses) and keen to encourage involvement in research, particularly in people who wish to consider working less-than-full time.
CCBS research suggests blood vessel tangles in the brain best left alone
Patients with a condition that causes blood vessels in the brain to form an abnormal tangle could be helped by CCBS research findings. An international trial, led in the UK by Professor Rustam Al-Shahi Salman and published in the Lancet, suggests that the safest way of managing arteriovenous malformations (AVM) of the brain is to treat the patient's symptoms only, and not the AVM. The researchers found that people with an AVM - causing disrupted blood flow in the brain - are three times more likely to suffer stroke from the AVM bursting or die within three years if the tangled vessels are treated.
More than 200 patients with a brain AVM were followed for 33 months. The risks linked to treatment of AVMs were much higher than those associated with leaving them alone. The findings build on previous research showing that annually, only one in every hundred patients with a brain AVM suffer a stroke, and the other 99 per cent do not. If a brain AVM ruptures, the initial effects are often mild: common symptoms include headaches and epilepsy.
Professor Al-Shahi Salman said: "We have found clear evidence of harm to patients in the short term from treatments to obliterate AVMs that have never bled in the past. Observation of trial participants must continue for at least another five years to find out if this difference persists."
Read the article at: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(13)62302-8/fulltext
Rugby star joins CCBS scientists in bid to tackle motor neurone disease
A World Cup-winning rugby star is joining forces with researchers at the Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research in a new partnership to tackle motor neurone disease (MND).
South African Joost van der Westhuizen part of the victorious Springboks team of 1995 has launched a collaboration with scientists from the Euan MacDonald Centre. The new partnership will see members and supporters of the player's J9 Foundation meet EMC members to discuss the latest developments in research. We hope that in time the collaboration will bring benefit to MND patients as knowledge and expertise are shared.
When he retired from international rugby in 2003, Joost van der Westhuizen was the most capped South African player, with 89 Test caps and 38 Test tries, a record only recently broken. Joost was diagnosed with MND in 2011. MND is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that leads to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing paralysis and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing. Following his diagnosis, the former scrum-half set up the J9 Foundation, which provides support and care to MND sufferers, their families and carers.
The J9 Foundation visit to Edinburgh is part of a 10-day stay in the UK aimed at raising awareness and funds to support those affected by MND. Among the events planned is a fundraising quiz (Joost a Sports Quiz) at Murrayfield stadium, Edinburgh, tonight. Joost van der Westhuizen will also be honoured by the Scottish Rugby Union ahead of the South Africa and Scotland international on Sunday.
Professor Siddharthan Chandran, Director of the Euan MacDonald Centre, said "Solving the enormous challenge of MND or ALS requires partnership and collaboration. We are delighted to work with South African colleagues and the J9 foundation to promote better understanding of this devastating disease."
Euan MacDonald, Founder of the Euan MacDonald Centre and former rugby player, added "We are delighted to welcome Joost and the J9 Foundation delegation to Edinburgh. We are honoured that they have travelled so far to raise awareness of this condition and we look forward to developing this new partnership."
Joost van der Westhuizen said "This is going to be the most important tour of my life. We are not only raising awareness and funds, for the first time we are bringing international research partnerships home. In the beginning you go through all the emotions and you ask, 'Why me?' It's quite simple, 'Why not me?' If I have to go through this to help future generations, why not me?"
Welcome to new CCBS member Szu-Han Wang
Szu-Han Wang is a Caledonian research fellow affiliated with CCBS and the Centre for Cognitive and Neural Systems (CCNS) who will be working mainly in the Chancellor's building, Little France. She has recently completed a postdoc with Prof Richard Morris in CCNS and has also worked and studied in Toronto, Montreal and Taipei. Szu-Han is passionate about understanding how learning and memory is formed and its underlying brain mechanisms. She is investigating how memory consolidation and reconsolidation occur in the brain, how prior experience affects subsequent learning, and how peri-learning events affect memory persistence. Together, these studies point to an integrated view on the learning and memory process instead of treating it as an isolated event. This view has major implication in translating preclinical models to clinical studies and in stimulating treatments for memory-related disorders.
The Anne Rowling Clinic was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal on Tuesday 8th October 2013.
The Princess Royal, who is Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, was given a tour of the Clinic during which staff and students demonstrated the facilities and described current research projects.
J.K. Rowling, Founder of the Clinic, also attended the event, with members of her family.
In a statement, she said "I am moved and elated to see the Anne Rowling Clinic formally opened today by HRH The Princess Royal. Having observed the plans for the Clinic develop and expand to fulfil the needs of patients, clinicians and researchers, I am now very proud to see the building finished and operating as the beating heart of this centre for excellence. Thank you to everyone who has been involved in its creation and operation."
The Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic is a hub for clinical research and trials into neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease. It works in close cooperation with researchers at CCBS and other affiliated centres.
Clinic co-Director Siddharthan Chandran said "We are delighted to officially open this Clinic. All patients with these tough diseases need treatments that will slow, stop and ideally reverse damage. The Anne Rowling Clinic will pioneer discovery science and innovative clinical research through strong partnerships with the NHS, academia and industry around the world. Only by better understanding the biological processes behind these devastating diseases can we identify new targets for potential therapies and take them into clinical trials."
First CCBS away-day a great success
The first CCBS away-day was held in the magnificent surroundings of the Playfair Library Hall, Old College, on Monday 30th Sept 2013. Around 100 staff and students attended a day of lively talks and discussions, punctuated by a surprisingly impressive lunch.
The talks included global overviews of Psychiatry from Stephen Lawrie and Neuroimaging from Joanna Wardlaw, succinct presentations from students and postdocs and research overviews from Seth Grant, guest James Boardman and new recruit Dies Meijer. Swiss artist Fabian Oefner gave a fascinating insight into his work exploring the interface of science and art through high-speed photography, David Hunt gave an honest account of the trials and tribulations of the fellowship-funding process and John Paul Leach rounded off the day beautifully with his amusing and motivating view of the future of clinical neurology.
The most unusual part of the day was speed networking, organised by Will Whiteley and Rustam Al-Shahi Salman. Backed by what must be an incredibly complex algorithm, everyone in the room spent periods of five minutes chatting in small groups before being moved on to meet others at the ringing of an old school bell. Although most people were dubious at first, this exercise was very enjoyable and useful, and many new connections were forged.
The whole day was relaxed yet inspiring, and everyone agreed that it was great to bring the diverse members of CCBS together and demonstrate the many commonalities in research strategy and methods. We will look forward to another away-day next year.
Photos can be viewed here...
Transatlantic partnership to tackle neurodegenerative diseases
Research into multiple sclerosis and motor neurone disease is to be boosted with an international collaboration to further understanding of these illnesses.
Experts from the University of Edinburgh and the Massachusetts-based biotechnology company Biogen Idec will work together to seek greater insight into the cell processes behind these debilitating conditions.
This will include identifying drug compounds that could potentially be used as treatments.
The three-year collaboration will combine the University's expertise in translational medicine - which develops laboratory discoveries into treatments for patients - with Biogen Idec's strength in drug discovery and development.
Siddharthan Chandran, Professor of Neurology, said: "This landmark partnership is a brilliant example of academic-industrial collaboration in the field of discovery science. Only by better understanding the biological processes behind these devastating diseases can we hope to discover new and effective therapies."
Clinicians and scientists, based at Edinburgh BioQuarter - Scotland's flagship lifesciences project - will be involved in the project, which will draw on the University's strength in neuroscience, stem cell research and regeneration.
The initiative is being funded by Biogen Idec, which is known for its strength in developing therapies for neurological disorders, particularly its portfolio of treatments for patients with multiple sclerosis.
"We have embraced academic collaborations as a part of our strategy to maintain a vibrant and innovative research organization and better understand the underlying biology of neurodegenerative disease. Our research partnership with the University of Edinburgh is an excellent example of this strategy," said Ken Rhodes, Vice President of Neurology Research at Biogen Idec. "We are committed to continuing to improve the treatment of people with MS and motor neuron diseases, and this collaboration is expected to provide an in-depth portrait of their pathophysiology, and identify important new targets for potential therapies."
New clinical trial for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis
The Multiple Sclerosis - Secondary Progressive Multi-Arm Randomisation Trial (MS-SMART) will test the effects of three known drugs (ibudilast, riluzole and amiloride) versus placebo in secondary progressive MS. These drugs are already used to treat motor neurone disease (MND), heart disease or asthma.
The trial is being run by the University of Edinburgh and University College London and is supported by the MS Society. Up to 15 UK trial sites have been identified, to compare these already licensed drugs against a placebo in 440 patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Participants, who have a late-stage progressive form of multiple sclerosis, will be monitored for two years.
"This is a landmark study that seeks to not only test three potential treatments but also showcase a new approach to clinical trials for progressive neurological conditions." Professor Siddharthan Chandran, Director of the Anne Rowling Clinic
Researchers will use MRI scans and other clinical measures to test for signs of MS disease progression. If successful, the drugs will be the first ever disease modifying treatment for people with secondary progressive MS.
The three drugs for the trial were identified after a systematic review of previously published research of potentially neuro-protective treatments. Research funded by the MS Society developed methods and techniques for the trial.
All MRI scans carried out during the trial will be analysed at the MS Society-supported NMR Research Unit at UCL's Institute of Neurology, led by Professor David Miller. Biomarker studies for the trial will be led by Professor Gavin Giovannoni (Bart's and the London School of Medicine, Queen Mary University of London).
Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society, said: "People with MS have lived for years in hope that one day we will find an effective treatment for secondary progressive MS; this trial, although still early stage, takes us one step closer to make that hope a reality."
"While there are an increasing number of treatments for MS that can reduce the frequency or severity of MS relapses, there's nothing that can stop the rapid accumulation of disability in people with secondary progressive MS; it's a huge unmet need in the treatment of the condition, and despite many clinical trials, scientists have so far failed to find anything that works." Dr Jeremy Chataway, Consultant Neurologist at University College London.
MS-SMART is an investigator-led project sponsored by University College London (UCL). This independent research is awarded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation Programme (EME) and funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the MS Society. It is managed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) on behalf of the MRC-NIHR partnership. Two commercial companies, Medicinova (ibudilast) and Genzyme Therapeutics Ltd (riluzole), are also supporting the study by donating the supply of the drugs ibudilast and riluzole for use in this trial only.
Trial recruitment will begin in the autumn. For more information visit http://www.ms-smart.org/
Regenerating Hope: Siddharthan Chandran gives TED talk
12 June 2013
Director of the Anne Rowling Clinic Siddharthan Chandran has given a talk at TEDGlobal 2013 today on the theme of "Regeneration".
In his talk, "Regenerating Hope", Siddharthan described his vision for using stem cells to repair brains damaged by neurodegenerative disease.
See a description of his talk and more images at: http://blog.ted.com/2013/06/12/regenerating-hope-tedglobal-2013-with-siddharthan-chandran/
Television and radio coverage for brain cooling in stroke
Television and radio stations have been reporting how Prof Malcolm Macleod is testing whether cooling the brain can help stroke patients.
Prof Macleod is leading a trial testing a new device, Brain Cool, which is designed to cool the blood in a patients neck and therefore cool the blood reaching the brain. They are testing whether this could help treat people suffering a stroke and, if successful, could lead to brain-cooling treatment being available in ambulances.
The following links are active until Thursday.
For BBC 1 Scotland: Click here to access streaming
For Scottish Television: Click here to access streaming
For BBC Radio Scotland: Click here to access streaming
New Edinburgh-India partnership to tackle brain disorders
A major new initiative in neuroscience between the University of Edinburgh and the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (inStem), Bangalore, was inaugurated by the Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea, on 16th February. The new Centre for Brain Development and Repair will be supported by the Indian Department of Biotechnology. The team, which includes Profs Siddharthan Chandran (CCBS), Peter Kind (CIP) and Richard Morris (CCNS), will involve scientists working on joint projects in Bangalore and Edinburgh. The initial focus of this new joint Centre will be on autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities. See the news item on the inStem website at http://instem.res.in/research/research-themes/centre-for-brain-development-and-repair
The announcement comes as part of a wider UK-India partnership announced today by the Prime Minister (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21495635)
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