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Towards a better outcome of neurological disorders

How can subsequent damage due to stroke be minimized or prevented? What causes the malformations in the brain that spark epileptic seizures and other events? What are the factors that trigger multiple sclerosis, and how could it be stopped? What kinds of interventions are possible?

Research at the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence is devoted to the overriding issue of how the lives of patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders could be improved. Radical changes to the brain caused by disease can cause a patient's social situation to deteriorate or lead to disability and unemployment. At present, there are few treatment options for patients with these diseases.

Source: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Funding period: 2007–2017

Within the NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, scientists and researchers involved in 50 research groups at Charité (the medical school jointly operated by Freie Universität and Humboldt-Universität), the Max Delbrück Center (MDC), the German Rheumatism Research Centre (DRFZ), and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (FMP) are working together to improve the quality of life for patients with neurological disease.

The interdisciplinary project, which is based at Charité, focuses on seven research areas, with one researcher who works on fundamental research and one practicing physician sharing responsibility for each area. The participants hope that this approach will make it possible to use research findings more quickly in the development of new therapies.

At present, the only treatment for neurological diseases is aimed at alleviating their effects – they are not generally curable. Strokes are widespread, affecting one in four men and one in five women over the age of 85 in Germany. If researchers are able to achieve better insight into the brain’s protective mechanisms and utilize the underlying cascades of signals therapeutically, stroke patients may benefit. The only treatment currently available for the 700,000 epilepsy sufferers in Germany is symptomatic therapy. Achieving a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms may help make epilepsy more treatable.

With 20 new professorships, NeuroCure is contributing to the development and strengthening of the region in and around Berlin as a location for neuroscience research. The main focus is on close interdisciplinary collaboration between research and clinical practice and the enhancement of cooperation among neuroscientists working at different institutions in the area. Emphasis is placed on training young researchers and, in particular, women scientists. A new state-of-the-art research building, Charité Crossover, was opened in October 2012, making it even easier to work more intensively on the achievement of the objectives.

Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schmitz

Contact: Dr. Claudia Mahlke, Tel. +49 30 450-539124

For further information, please see the Neurocure website.