Chronic neurological diseases — Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Huntington’s disease, neuromuscular disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, to mention only a few — afflict millions of Americans worldwide and account for tremendous morbidity and mortality. Furthermore, age is the largest risk factor for many of these diseases, which is problematic as humans are living longer as a result of modern medicinal innovation. Although treatments have been sought for these diseases, presently they are inadequate. Thus, there is a desperate need for disease-modifying therapies to combat chronic neurological disorders.
Research at the MBI
The MBI has defined the treatment and cure of chronic neurological diseases as one of its “cores.” The institute has marked this area for special emphasis in its innovative clinical-translational research plan. This core will:
- Attempt to make as many patients as possible at UF potential research patients.
- Attempt to link these patients in large well-characterized patient registries with pathological tissue (and the development of normal and neurological disease tissue/cell banks), imaging studies (on one of many multi-Tesla magnets housed in the MBI), genetic material (from UF patients placed in the National Institutes of Health Registry) and to a blood and tissue cryopreservation bank.
- “Push” therapies from the laboratory into the operating room, and into its newly constructed clinical trials center.
Additionally, the core will be devoted to developing new technologies, new treatments and innovative regenerative and personalized medicine techniques with the ultimate goal to ease the suffering of patients with chronic neurological diseases.
The 1Florida Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center is a consortium of Florida institutions — Mount Sinai Medical Center, UF, FAU, FIU and the University of Miami. Their team evaluates people with and without memory disorders and other thinking problems for diagnosis and participation in research studies. Under the supervision of the FDA, they test new medicines to research their effectiveness on Alzheimer’s disease.
Under the direction of Laura Ranum, Ph.D., the Center for NeuroGenetics, housed within the Cancer Genetics Research Complex at UF, aims at furthering the understanding of neurological disorders that have a strong genetic component. These include (but are not limited to) Huntington’s disease, spinocerebellar ataxias, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and muscular dystrophy. Researchers within this center tackle these diseases from molecular, genetic and clinical approaches in order to define both the causes and potential treatments for these disorders.
Led by co-directors Malú Tansey, Ph.D., and Matthew LaVoie, Ph.D., the CTRND’s primary focus is furthering the basic understanding of neurodegenerative disease, with an emphasis on the development of future treatments and diagnostics. Diseases of focus include, but are not limited to, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), frontotemporal dementia, Huntington’s disease, Lewy body dementia, spinocerebellar ataxias. Housed within the McKnight Brain Institute building and the Biomedical Sciences Building at UF, the CTRND is a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative unit that provides a superb environment for both teaching and therapeutic discovery for neurodegenerative disorders.
Under the direction of executive director Michael Okun, M.D. and co-director Kelly Foote, M.D., the Fixel Institute is focused on providing integrated, interdisciplinary care for patients with movement disorders, specifically those involving a region of the brain critical for movement, the basal ganglia. Housing leading specialists in the field of movement disorders, the center is able to deliver motor, cognitive and behavioral diagnoses as well as treatments all in one centralized location.
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