Neuroinflammation has been identified as an important factor in many pathologies of the nervous system like neurodegenerative diseases (including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementias), chronic pain or autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the causal or consequential role of neuroinflammation still remains unclear. These diseases impose a heavy burden on society and are a major cause for morbidity, mortality and impaired quality of life of afflicted patients.
Having established alemtuzumab [“Campath”] as a highly effective anti-inflammatory therapy for early relapsing multiple sclerosis, we are now tackling the post-inflammatory phase of the disease by testing a novel remyelinating therapies. Previously we showed that bexarotene, a licensed retinoid X receptor gamma agonist, promotes endogenous brain repair, but was too toxic to be given to people with MS. We are now looking at the effects of combining metformin and clemastine. To measure remyelination, we are using advnaced magnetic resonance imaging and electrophysiological assessments of vision, in the Clinical Vision Lab. In addition, we are exploring how best to use current MS drugs by studying real-world data from thousands of people with MS all over the world.
For more details see our website for Clinical MS Research
We were awarded an MS Society of Excellence Centre for the Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair, which brings together laboratory scientists, physicists and clinicians from across the biomedical campus.
We have shown that people taking anti-inflammatory drugs are less prone to dementia associated with Parkinson’s disease, and that Parkinson’s disease is associated with a pro-inflammatory serum cytokine profile and abnormal peripheral B lymphocyte phenotype. We will now conduct the first placebo-controlled trial of an immunosuppressant in people with established Parkinson’s disease to prevent cognitive impairment.
In recent years, in partnership we have shown that ~7% of people with early psychosis have serum antibodies directed against neuronal membrane targets, and that they seem to respond to immunotherapy in open-label studies. This underpins a randomised placebo-controlled national multi-centre trial to test this innovative treatment approach for the first time.
We are committed to advancing our understanding of how inflammation contributes to the causes of chronic neurological diseases, and ambitious to conduct both fundamental science as well as start innovative therapy trials across all diseases of the nervous system involving inflammation.