Tuesday, December 10, 2013

NeuroBlast e-Newsletter December 2013

In this issue: Alzheimer's | Endoscopic Neurosurgery | Stereotactic Radiosurgery | Pediatric Epilepsy

Welcome to NeuroBlast, the newsletter of advances in neurology, neurosurgery, and neuroscience from Massachusetts General Hospital. In each issue, you will find timely and clinically relevant stories about major trends in translational neuroscience and clinical care. On our websites, www.massgeneral.org/neurosurgery and www.massgeneral.org/neurology, you will find full stories, links to original literature and further reading, resources for physicians and patients, and more.

This issue examines the latest in Alzheimer's Disease, pediatric epilepsy, and neurosurgical oncology treatment innovations. Future issues will include a full range of topics in neurology, neurosurgery, and neuroscience. While you are here, please take a moment to leave us a comment or question. We welcome your feedback.

Alzheimer's ResearchCranial Base Endoscopic Neurosurgery

A Comprehensive Approach to Alzheimer's Research

For researchers at Mass General, taking a comprehensive approach is the only sensible way to develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease. “One of the things that distinguishes our program,” says Brad Hyman, MD, PhD, “is that it goes all the way from gene discovery through animal models to drug discovery, and from discovery of biomarkers and novel neuroimaging techniques through trial design to clinical trials.” Dr. Hyman is Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, a NIH Center of Excellence. That approach is evident in the work of four top AD researchers at MGH. The articles below describe their work.

Endoscopic Neurosurgery Advances to Treat Rare, Complex Tumors

endoscope held by a surgeon

“Endoscopy is less invasive than traditional microscopic approaches,” says neurosurgeon William Curry, MD, “but the most important thing is that it actually allows better access, and safer resections.”  Read More


Alzheimer’s Disease Gene Discovery & Drug DiscoverySpinal Metastases & Stereotactic Radiosurgery

For Top Alzheimer’s Researcher, Drug Discovery Follows Gene Discovery

Rudy Tanzi and Anne Young in the labRudy Tanzi, PhD, is poring over the entire genome sequences from almost 1500 familial AD patients, searching for gene variants that tilt toward risk or protection in those most at risk for developing the disease. Says Dr. Tanzi, “This is as big as big data gets.” Read More

Shifting the Paradigm for Spinal Metastases with Stereotactic Radiosurgery 

Stereotactic radiosurgery

“Radiosurgery has shifted the paradigm of how we treat these patients by allowing us to minimize the morbidity of conventional surgery and to focus on tumor control,” says Dr. John ShinRead More

Alzheimer's Tau PathologyDietary Therapy for Pediatric Epilepsy

Alzheimer's Tau Pathology, Spreading out from the Entorhinal Cortex, Can be Reversed

Dr. Hyman at microscopeDr. Hyman is exploring how tau pathology spreads from neuron to neuron and has shown that, under the right conditions, that spread can be stopped and even reversed along with some of its neural system consequences. “While there is presumably a “point of no return” after which neuronal death ensues,” he says, “we think that some or all of these phenomena, long held to be end-stage pathology lesions in human AD, may be at least in part amenable to therapeutic intervention.” Read more

A Comprehensive Treatment Program Includes Dietary Therapy for Intractable Epilepsy

girl at table

“Too many neurologists still think of dietary therapy as ‘too hard,’ even for kids with intractable epilepsy,” says Elizabeth Thiele, MD, Director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Program at Mass General. Read more. Watch a related video: Treatment for Epileptic Seizures in Young Patient.

Alzheimer's Early Treatment Alzheimer’s - Preclinical Disease Biomarker

Testing Whether Early Treatment Can Change the Course of Alzheimer’s Disease

Reisa SperlingReisa Sperling, MD, is using neuroimaging to ask whether anti-amyloid antibody treatment can reverse AD pathology before memory loss sets in. “We are going beyond looking for evidence of preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease,” Dr. Sperling says, “and are now asking whether, if you intervene at this stage, you can actually change the course of the disease.”  Read more

Sniffing Out Preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease

Mark Albers, MDMark Albers, MD, PhD, is developing a set of simple but powerful tools that examine the cognitive processing of odors to screen for the very earliest stages of preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease. “Ultimately,” Albers says, “we are hoping to develop a test that would be noninvasive and cost-effective that could be given to essentially everyone over the age of 50.”
Read more

Interested in learning more about how the Mass General Hospital Department of Neurosurgery or Neurology Service can support you and your patients? Please contact us for more information. For Neurosurgery: Request a consultation or make a referral, visit the Neurosurgery website, or call our Access line: 617-726-2937. For Neurology: Download a referral form, visit the Neurology website, or follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to receive future issues of NeuroBlast, or send us your comments at neuroblast@partners.org

© 2013 Neurosurgery Service, and Neurology Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114

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