Determined collaboration and groundbreaking technology have led to exciting advances in efforts to solve the challenges of brain diseases, researchers from the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases(MIND) told patients, families and friends recently.
On May 16, 2018, nearly 100 people attended the event at the MIND labs at the Charlestown Navy Yard. MIND’s Visiting Day gathering included a reception and presentations by researchers working in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), frontotemporal disorders, Parkinson’s disease and dystonia.
MIND founder Anne Young, MD, PhD, and Merit Cudkowicz, MD, MSc, chair of Neurology, highlighted the interdisciplinary collaborative environment at MIND. Both emphasized the great impact philanthropy plays in supporting promising ideas at their earliest stages, encouraging scientists in different specialty areas to share ideas, equipment and insights to accelerate their research.
New imaging and genomics allow researchers to pinpoint with extraordinary accuracy the pathways behind many neurological disorders. These innovative technologies provide clinicians with a better understanding of a disease, and encourage the basic science investigators to identify therapies that can target a specific area of the brain.
Brad Dickerson, MD, who specializes in frontotemporal disorders, provided an overview of the research efforts to find cures for neurological diseases, a process that starts and ends with patients. Clinicians document symptoms, perform tests and neurological exams, measure structural, functional and molecular changes in the brain through imaging and fluid samples (such as spinal fluid), develop laboratory models to understand disease mechanisms and screen treatments.