News in brief: Neuroscientist honoured; Best tests for dementia in PD; MS underlying mechanisms

25 May 2021

Neuroscientist wins top science honour

Sydney University neuroscientist Professor Glenda Halliday has been named as one of 21 new fellows of the Australian Academy of Science.

Professor Halliday has research interests in neurodegeneration and receives the Fellowship for making major impacts on understanding disease progression, and her promotion of neuroscience, mentorship and contributions to research evaluation.

“From origins in comparative neuroanatomy, she established the Sydney Brain Bank and applied her expertise to clinicopathological correlations, revealing the anatomical, biochemical, molecular and genetic characteristics of several neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Parkinson’s disease and frontotemporal dementia,” the Academy said.

“Her work has changed international diagnostic criteria, provided differentiating characteristics for neurological diseases and developed disease staging schemes. She has defined unique roles of certain genes and proteins, now being used to develop diagnostic protocols and potential therapies.”

MS phenotypes share same underlying mechanism

Relapsing-onset and progressive-onset multiple sclerosis share the same environmental and lifestyle risk factors, suggesting they also share similar underlying disease mechanisms, a Scandinavian study shows.

Investigators said it was unclear whether the focal inflammatory lesions of MS trigger the progressive phase of the disease or whether other mechanisms are responsible.

Using two Swedish population-based case–control studies, including 7520 relapsing-onset cases, 540 progressive-onset cases and 11 386 controls they found no difference between the different MS phenotypes and a number of environmental and lifestyle factors.

Smoking, obesity and Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen-1 (EBNA-1) antibody levels were associated with increased risk of both MS phenotypes, whereas snuff use, alcohol consumption and sun exposure were associated with reduced risk.

Their findings are published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry

Best tests for Parkinson disease dementia

The neuropsychological tests most predictive of dementia in early Parkinsons disease are verbal fluency and, attention/memory, a new study shows.

A review of clinical and neuropsychological tests conducted in 211 newly diagnosed PD participating in the ICICLE-PD study also showed that impaired global cognition, attention and visual memory were the most accurate predictors for developing a dementia

Impaired global cognition and semantic fluency were the most useful brief tests employable in a clinical setting, according to the study which followed up patients for 72 months

More information: Journal of Parkinsons Disease.

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