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PSPA-funded researchers present at international conference

Young researchers from PSPA-funded teams at UCL and Cambridge have recently been showcasing their work at a major international research conference.

The 2017 International Congress of Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders took place in Vancouver in early June and was attended by leading clinicians and scientists from around the world, who discussed latest developments in the quest for improved understanding and treatments.

Dr Edwin Jabbari, our Sara Koe Clinical Research Fellow, presented some early results from his study at UCL, showing that a protein called Neurofilament Light Chain (NfL) in spinal fluid and blood may be able to predict the rate of disease progression in PSP.

This could potentially provide information that will give doctors and families the opportunity to plan ahead and put the most appropriate care and support in place. In addition, NfL can be used as a measure in future clinical trials. Importantly, Dr Jabbari has also shown a strong correlation between spinal fluid and plasma (blood) NfL levels, meaning that a blood test might be all that’s needed rather than a lumbar puncture.

Dr Jabbari explains: “These are promising data. Further replication is required, but the fact that levels of spinal fluid and plasma NfL are so well correlated implies that plasma NfL may have a role in providing easily accessibly early prognostic information.”*

Meanwhile, PhD student Patricia Vazquez Rodriguez from Prof James Rowe’s team at Cambridge University presented her impressive work on the role of neuroinflammation in PSP.

She used a special type of brain scan, positron emission tomography (PET), and brain tissue generously donated to the Cambridge Brain Bank, to show that the intensity and distribution of inflammation varied between PSP, Alzheimer’s and healthy controls.

Patricia also demonstrated that the degree of inflammation was related to disease severity. Her results support the idea that inflammatory processes have a key role to play in the development of PSP and that suppressing this inflammation may be one possible route to treating the disease.

Studies like Patricia’s that use brain images from living patients alongside post mortem brain tissue are complicated to perform but can be extremely effective. As Patricia told us: “Brain donations are just so important for research. We are so grateful to our donors and their families for making such a difference.”

Congratulations to both researchers! We are very proud to have had the PSPA logo displayed on the presentations.

*A more detailed description of Dr Jabbari’s presentation can be found at

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