Skip to main content

Duke Neurology Research Round Up, October 2018

Thursday, November 1, 2018
Research Round Up

Members of the Duke Neurology Department contributed to 10 new articles in the scientific literature in October 2018. These studies included a new potential treatment avenue for a progressive disease that results in blindness, an examination of how exercise preserves white matter in the brain, and an analysis of data from more than 425,000 stroke patients. Here are summaries of these and other stories published by our faculty over the past 31 days.


  • Ying Xian, MD, PhD, and colleagues examined data from more than 300 patients who were discharged from hospitals with acute stroke to analyze what factors were associated with 1-year mortality. They found data on several important factors, including age, discharge location, and patient’s ambulatory status, that could act as therapeutic targets to improve long-term stroke survival. Read their study here.
  • Current guidelines caution against providing intravenous tPA to patients with acute ischemic stroke who are taking NOACs, but there are no trials or large cohorts to provide evidence for this behavior. Xian, Daniel Laskowitz, MD, MHS, and colleagues performed a literature of this area, examining 55 studies over the past decade. Read what they found here.
  • Finally, Xian also contributed to an another article, where he and colleagues examined how well the shock index (Heart rate divided by systolic blood pressure) predicted clinical outcomes for stroke, using data from more than 425,000 acute stroke patients. Read that article in the Journal of the American Heart Association here.

Memory Disorders

  • While physical activity has been known to have numerous positive effects on brain health and cognitive function, few studies have examined the effects of exercise on the white matter in the brain. Simon Davis, PhD, and other researchers found that individuals who engaged in regular physical activity had greater preservation and quality of white matter. Read the full article here.
  • Men and women may each have specific genes that improve longevity for one gender but not the other. A team of researchers including W. Kirby Gottschalk, PhD, reported this and other findings after analyzing data from more than 2,000 Chinese individuals who were more than 100 years old. Read what they found in JAMA Network Open here.

Neuromuscular Disease

  • Dozens of new applications for ultrasonography have emerged for neuromuscular disorders over the past two decades. Lisa Hobson-Webb, MD, was part of a cohort that analyzed the impact of these applications where they are used through a review of the literature. Read their opinions, and what they found, in Clinical Neurophysiology.
  • Hobson-Webb, as well as Jeffrey Guptill, MD, MHS, Vern Juel, MD, and Janice Massey, MD, and colleagues, also analyzed the plasma miRNA profiles of a subtype of myasthenia gravis (MG) known as MuSK+ MG. The distinct plasma miRNA profiles they found may be useful for identifying biomarkers for MG subtypes and in providing optimal treatment. Read their article in the Journal of Neuroimmunology here.

Neurodegeneration and Neurotherapeutics

  • A new form of therapy may halt or even reverse a form of progressive vision loss that, until now, has inevitably led to blindness. Patients with spinocerebellar ataxia type 7 (SCA7) suffer from retinal degeneration that leads to blindness. However, Senior author Al La Spada, MD, PhD, lead author Chenchen Niu, PhD and colleagues found that modified nucleic acids known as ASOs improved the vision of mice with SCA7 and opened a new avenue to treat this condition. Read the full article in Science Translational Medicine here, or read our press release here.
  • La Spada was also the senior author of a study in the latest issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, where he and colleagues found evidence for what may be a key problem in the development of neurodegeneration: problems with CCP1, a highly conserved gene that promotes mitochondrial fusion and motility. Read their complete article here.
  • Age is the predominant risk factor for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases, yet finding a model for aging in cells remains a challenge. Senior author Ornit Chiba-Falek, PhD, lead author Lidia Tagliafierro, PhD, and Madison Zamora developed a model of neuronal nuclear aging involving multiplication of the SNCA locus. Read their article in Human Molecular Genetics.

(Image courtesy National Institutes of Health)