Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as motor neuron disease (MND), has 4 distinct patterns of changes in electrical signals that can be identified using resting-state electroencephalography, according to new research1 from Trinity College Dublin. The findings will be valuable in identifying patients for clinical trials and will assist in finding new treatments for this disease.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a devastating condition which causes progressive paralysis, changes in thinking, increasing physical disability and ultimately death within an average of two to three years. There is currently no effective treatment.

While trials of new drugs are being undertaken, MND is known to be very heterogeneous with different patterns of disability and life expectancy. Predicting in advance the pattern of disability and life expectancy is one of the major challenges in designing modern clinical trials.

Patterns Of Dysfunction

These neurophysiological subtypes are characterized by disruptions in the somatomotor, frontotemporal (two distinct activity types), and frontoparietal networks.

The work was performed by Mr Stefan Dukic, a Ph.D. student within the Academic Unit of Neurology at Trinity, under the supervision of Dr. Bahman Nasseroleslami, and Tony Coote Assistant Professor in Neuroelectric Signal Analysis.

Understanding how brain networking is disrupted in MND has been the focus of our research for the past 10 years. This work show that we are on the right track, and that the technologies we have developed to capture electrical activity in the brain can identify important differences between different patient groups,

Dr. Nasseroleslami said.

This is a very important and exciting body of work. A major barrier to providing the right drug for the right patient in MND is the heterogeneity of the disease. This breakthrough research has shown that it is possible to use patterns of brain network dysfunction to identify subgroups of patients that cannot be distinguished by clinical examination. The implications of this work are enormous, as we will have new and reliable ways segregate patients based on what is really happening within the nervous system in MND,

added Professor Orla Hardiman, Professor of Neurology and a world leader in MND research.

  1. Stefan Dukic, Roisin McMackin, Emmet Costello, Marjorie Metzger, Teresa Buxo, Antonio Fasano, Rangariroyashe Chipika, Marta Pinto-Grau, Christina Schuster, Michaela Hammond, Mark Heverin, Amina Coffey, Michael Broderick, Parameswaran M Iyer, Kieran Mohr, Brighid Gavin, Russell McLaughlin, Niall Pender, Peter Bede, Muthuraman Muthuraman, Leonard van den Berg, Orla Hardiman, Bahman Nasseroleslami. Resting-state EEG reveals four subphenotypes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Brain, 2021; awab322 ↩︎

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