November 23rd, 2021
Trinity College researchers make breakthrough in understanding motor neuron disease
Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have made a major discovery in understanding motor neuron disease (MND). The research team has found that MND has 4 distinct patterns of changes in electrical signals that can be identified using EEG (electroencephalography).
This breakthrough will be extremely valuable in identifying patients for clinical trials and will assist in finding new treatments for this devastating disease.
The study has been published online today (Monday, 22nd November 2021) in the prestigious journal Brain HERE
MND is a devastating condition which causes progressive paralysis, changes in thinking, increasing physical disability and ultimately death within an average of two to three years. There are over 500 people in Ireland with MND, and one person is diagnosed every 3 days with the condition. There is currently no effective treatment.
While trials of new drugs are being undertaken, MND is known to be very heterogeneous with different patterns of disability and life expectancy. Predicting in advance the pattern of disability and life expectancy is one of the major challenges in designing modern clinical trials.
The world class electrical signal analysis research developed within Trinity College has discovered different patterns of brain network disruption reflect the underlying disease process. The Trinity researchers have now shown that these patterns of brain network disruptions in MND cluster into 4 distinct subtypes that are predictive of how the disease progresses. The team’s findings move the Trinity researchers one step closer to building better and more effective treatments for different sub categories of the disease.
The work was performed by Mr Stefan Dukic, a PhD student within the Academic Unit of Neurology at Trinity, under the supervision of Dr Bahman Nasseroleslami, Fr Tony Coote Assistant Professor in Neuroelectric Signal Analysis.
Dr Bahman Nasseroleslami said:
Understanding how brain networking is disrupted in MND has been the focus of our research for the past 10 years. This work show that we are on the right track, and that the technologies we have developed to capture electrical activity in the brain can identify important differences between different patient groups.
Professor Orla Hardiman, Professor of Neurology and a world leader in MND research said:
This is a very important and exciting body of work. A major barrier to providing the right drug for the right patient in MND is the heterogeneity of the disease. This breakthrough research has shown that it is possible to use patterns of brain network dysfunction to identify subgroups of patients that cannot be distinguished by clinical examination. The implications of this work are enormous, as we will have new and reliable ways segregate patients based on what is really happening within the nervous system in MND.
Ciara O’Shea, Media Relations Officer
Trinity Communications, Trinity College Dublin
COSHEA9@tcd.ie | + 353 86 787 0746
Bahman Nasseroleslami, Fr Tony Coote Assistant Professor in Neuroelectric Signal Analysis
Trinity College Dublin
Professor Orla Hardiman, Professor of Neurology
Trinity College Dublin
firstname.lastname@example.org | +353 87 255 7316
Notes to the Editor
Motor neuron disease (MND) is a devastating condition which causes progressive paralysis, cognitive change, increasing physical disability and ultimately death within an average of two to three years. There are over 400 people in Ireland with MND, and one person is diagnosed every 3 days with the condition. There is currently no effective treatment. Up to 10 of people with MND carry the abnormal C9orf72 gene, which can cause both MND and dementia.
The Trinity research group (www.rmn.ie), working with the National MND Centre at Beaumont Hospital is working with other centres in Europe to develop new and more effective clinical trials for MND as part of a new treatment network (Treatment Consortium to Cure ALS (www.TRICALS.org)
The work has been funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board, The Irish Research Council, the American ALS Association, the British MND Association the Irish MND Association and the charity Research Motor Neurone.
Trinity College researchers are very grateful to all those with MND in Ireland who have contributed to this ground breaking research.