by Isabella Colonna, Graz (Austria)
The fifth episode of the podcast series “One Voice for Neurology” focuses on research in neuroscience. Three guests have been interviewed: Prof. Monica di Luca, president of the European Brain Council, Jane Ransom, executive director of the American Brain Foundation and Dr. Paulo Fontoura, Global Head of Clinical Development Neuroscience at Roche.
In the last years lot of progress has been made in basic laboratory research as well as in clinical research, as Prof Di Luca said. Nowadays it is necessary to merge all these knowledges that have been achieved and translate them into clinical utility. Only with a translational view, research efforts in neuroscience can be more effective and have a big impact on patients’ and society life.
Research changed already the therapeutical approach of many neurological diseases. For instance, a new therapy has been recently approved for spinal muscular atrophy and is having a huge impact on the quality of life of patients, caregivers and their families. Moreover, a similar gene therapy is under investigation for other neurological diseases, such as Duchenne dystrophy. Therefore, a therapy for a specific disease potentially may help the treatment of other neurological disorders.
Despite these important achievements, there are still many challenges to overcome. Indeed, there are no disease-modifying therapies for many neurological disease yet.
Big research efforts are needed for the identification of modifiable risk factors, which may prevent, delay or stop the progression of neurological disorders. Since brain regeneration is known to be limited, important challenges for the future are prevention of the diseases and promotion of brain health.
The complexity of the brain pathologies needs coordinated research initiatives at a global level. It’s necessary to avoid duplication of funding, to reduce fragmentation of research efforts and to identify gaps and needs. With this purpose, a shared brain research agenda, the European Brain Research Area (EBRA), has been launched in 2018.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that research is fundamental for the health of the society. Neurological disorders have huge impact not only on the life of the individual, but also on the society. Moreover, the burden of brain diseases will grow significantly in the next years. Thus, it’s necessary that policy-makers and general public are aware of the importance to invest in neuroscience research.