The following academic units form the submission to UoA 4:
- Institute of Neuroscience
- Institute for Ageing and Health
Within the Institutes our research is conducted under three broad research themes.
- Neurobiological basis of sensory, motor and cognitive functions
- Neural networks in health and disease
Comparative cognition and behaviour
- Lewy Body Dementia: Neurodegenerative diseases and Newcastle Biomedical Research Unit
- Stroke and Stroke Research Group
- Affective disorders
Research that translates into real world applications and into clinical research for patient benefit requires excellence in both underpinning basic science and clinical application, and an appropriately trained workforce. Therefore, our research involves collaborations between basic scientists, clinicians, health service professionals and engineers.
Find out about Institute of Neuroscience staff and Institute for Ageing and Health staff.
Our research in this area is making a positive impact on a global scale:
- Protecting the public
- Tackling dementia
Six case studies demonstrate the impact of our research:
e-Therapeutics: a university spin-out company that uses a new approach to discover medicinese-Therapeutics: a university spin-out company that uses a new approach to discover medicines
Professor Malcolm Young and colleagues at Newcastle University developed new mathematical and computational tools with which they could analyse large amounts of data on connections in the brain and produce models of how the brain is organised.
Young realised that those research tools could also be used to analyse networks of proteins involved in disease processes and predict their susceptibility to drugs and in 2003 he set up the medicines discovery company e-Therapeutics to exploit the technology.
The company listed on the AIM of the London Stock Exchange in November 2007 and in May 2013 became the eighth largest company in the biotechnology/pharmaceutical sector listed on the index, with a market capitalisation of over £90m.
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Introduction of a policy of mandatory polygraph assessment of high-risk sex offenders on parole in England and WalesIntroduction of a policy of mandatory polygraph assessment of high-risk sex offenders on parole in England and Wales
Since 2001, Professor Grubin has led trials to test whether polygraph assessment could help case officers manage high-risk sex offenders released on licence in England and Wales.
A three-year study of mandatory assessment which ended in 2012 demonstrated conclusively that polygraph testing helped case managers evaluate the risk posed by offenders and decide how best to protect the public from harm.
A policy of mandatory polygraph assessment of all high-risk sex offenders on parole in England and Wales was approved by ministers in summer 2012, and procurement is underway for a national polygraph testing service for high-risk sex offenders.
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Establishing effective doses of analgesics in animal research through a behaviour-based pain scoring systemEstablishing effective doses of analgesics in animal research through a behaviour-based pain scoring system
Having recognised the relative under-use of analgesics (painkillers) in animal research and veterinary practice, a programme of research at Newcastle led to the development of a behaviour-based pain scoring system.
This system provided an objective way of establishing effective doses of analgesics to reduce post-operative pain and discomfort in animals.
This work led to changes to a range of policy statements, institutional policies (both academic and industrial) and individual research worker practices.
It is now established that analgesics should be administered to rodents and rabbits, and that the efficacy of this treatment should be assessed objectively, in both the laboratory and in veterinary practice.
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Diagnosis and treatment of congenital myasthenic syndrome patients who have Dok-7 mutationsDiagnosis and treatment of congenital myasthenic syndrome patients who have Dok-7 mutations
Congenital myasthenic syndromes (CMS) are inherited neuromuscular disorders caused by defects at neuromuscular junctions, which are often a result of acetylcholine receptor gene mutations. A subset of CMS patients (around 14% in the US and Europe) have limb-girdle myasthenia (LGM). This disease can be highly disabling with symptoms including increasing weakness of skeletal muscles.
As a result of collaborative work between Newcastle and Oxford, it was determined that many LGM patients have a mutation of the Dok-7 gene (unrelated to the acetylholine receptor), and do not, therefore, respond to standard CMS treatments. Since then, a number of additional mutations have been discovered, and genetic testing is now available for the majority of known LGM-causative genes.
Crucially, Dok-7 patients, and those with other non-receptor related mutations, can now be diagnosed accurately and treated effectively, with ephedrine and salbutamol (in the US, albuterol). This significantly improves these patients' quality of life by enabling them to walk and breathe unassisted.
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New diagnostic criteria and development of the DaTSCAN imaging technique for identification of dementia with Lewy bodies as a distinct conditionNew diagnostic criteria and development of the DaTSCAN imaging technique for identification of dementia with Lewy bodies as a distinct condition
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is one of the most common subtypes of dementia. Although DLB shares characteristics with Alzheimer’s disease, the condition requires specific treatment and care.
New diagnostic criteria generated at Newcastle allow diagnosis of DLB as a distinct condition from Alzheimer’s, and these criteria have been incorporated into five national and international guidelines.
The work also resulted in an accurate and sensitive diagnostic technique, commercialised by GE Healthcare as the DaTSCAN imaging tool, which is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency. These new diagnostic criteria allow appropriate treatment and management of DLB for the first time.
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Developing the first drug to treat the symptoms of Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s diseaseDeveloping the first drug to treat the symptoms of Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease
Dementia is one of the greatest problems facing society today, both in financial terms and in terms of the quality of life of patients and caregivers. Newcastle research identified that cholinesterase inhibitors (CHEIs), originally licensed for use in Alzheimer's disease, would be of greater benefit in two other types of dementia - Lewy body dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
CHEIs are now recommended in national and international guidelines as a treatment for the cognitive and psychiatric symptoms associated with both of these conditions, which previously had no effective treatment. CHEIs are also licensed worldwide for use in Parkinson's dementia, and are used off-licence across the world as a first-line treatment for dementia with Lewy bodies.
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Find out about all our REF 2014 results.