Research at the DZNE focuses on “neurodegeneration,” a pathological phenomenon characterized by the progressive dysfunction of nerve cells and damage to their connections. This development can ultimately lead to cell death. Neurodegeneration may affect the brain, the spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system. Usually, this is a slowly evolving process that can go unnoticed for years before symptoms arise. Neurodegeneration may cause dementia, movement disorders or other serious health issues. It manifests in a wide spectrum of diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, neurological dysfunctions known as ataxias, childhood onset neurodegenerative disorders, as well as age-related macular degeneration, a medical condition which may result in blindness.
At present, there are no cures for these medical conditions and palliative care options remain limited. Current therapies can ease symptoms, but fail to target the causes of neurodegeneration. Too little is known, moreover, about the factors affecting its progression. Therefore, the DZNE studies all aspects of neurodegenerative diseases from molecular mechanisms to bedside care.