How the immune system may play a role in neurodegenerative dementias

Dr. Elizabeth Finger is collaborating with Lawson Imaging scientists to study the potential role of inflammation in the brains of patients with neurodegenerative dementia.

The immune system is one of our greatest defenses against disease and injury. But what happens when it betrays us?

With conditions like rheumatoid arthritis the immune system is manipulated to attack the human body.Inflammation, normally a protective immune response, can be employed to cause symptoms like pain.

Surprisingly, research suggests our immune system may be similarly affected in patients with neurodegenerative dementias.

“We know there are increased numbers of inflammatory cells in the brains of patients with dementia but we don’t know what role they’re playing,” says Dr. Elizabeth Finger, a scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and neurologist at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute. “Are they doing their proper job of cleaning up damaged cells or is their presence more sinister?”

Dr. Finger’s research group aims to identify and understand changes in the brain that lead to symptoms of dementia, find novel treatments to improve patient quality of life and hopefully prevent the disease altogether. Critical to this work is Dr. Finger’s collaboration with Lawson Imaging scientists Drs. Keith St. Lawrence, Udunna Anazodo, and Justin Hicks.

See the full story on Lawson Health Research Institute website.

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