Brain diseases touch the lives of millions of people. And severe symptoms such as memory loss have a progressively negative impact on quality of life.
Without a clear understanding of the mechanisms of these diseases, preventive care and curative treatments remain elusive. Experts at UCLA are hoping to change this by establishing the Clinical Neurogenomics Research Center (CNRC).
The UCLA Clinical Neurogenomics Research Center
UCLA is a recognized leader in brain disease treatment and research. Doctors and patients trust us to care for both common and complex brain diseases. Our team of researchers, which includes experts in genetics and neurology, is among the most influential in the country.
Our neurogenomics program builds off the expertise of our renowned neurogenetics program. Neurogenetics specialists help determine how gene mutations:
- Cause brain disease
- Influence treatments
- Lead to cures for neurological disease
Through this work, UCLA has become a world leader in using a focused method of genomic sequencing (exome sequencing) to diagnose rare brain diseases. We are using this information to identify new treatment options.
With the establishment of the CNRC, we are moving beyond diagnosis and exploring ways to better prevent and treat brain diseases. To this end, we are developing a unique biobank and conducting sophisticated bioinformatics analysis that facilitates novel research. Find out more by reading highlights of our work.
An Early Neurogenomics Success Story
UCLA has been utilizing exome sequencing to diagnose brain disease since 2011. In one early success story, our team used the technology to restore mobility for a young girl with a progressive movement disorder.
The patient first came to UCLA as an 11-year-old. Her parents feared she would soon lose her ability to walk. Initial evaluations showed a high probability that the problem was genetic. Doctors used exome sequencing to learn more.
The analysis revealed a genetic defect that slowed vitamin absorption in the patient’s cells. After treatment with high-dose vitamin therapy, the symptoms rapidly dissipated. The patient was eventually able to resume normal daily activities and is now an active young adult. Read more: Why UCLA? >
Support Neurogenomics Research at UCLA
We welcome inquiries and donations from organizations that support our efforts. Find out more about sponsoring neurogenomics research at UCLA by calling Senior Director of Development Elizabeth Nalto at 310-206-6749, or Development Coordinator Chantelle Eastman at 310-267-4094.
New Directions for Brain Disease Research and Outcomes
CNRC’s initial efforts are yielding discoveries that will allow us to answer important research questions. These insights are paving the way toward the next generation of brain disease care practices.
CNRC researchers are exploring topics such as:
- Differences in disease progression: In patients with dementia, we are identifying individuals whose condition progresses more slowly than others. We are using this information to explore gene modification methods that could slow disease progression in all patients.
- The genetics of drug side effects: Neurology patients taking statins for high cholesterol often experience subtle signs of muscle weakness (myopathy) that put them at risk for falls. We are exploring the genetic causes of this form of myopathy to keep patients on statins safe from injuries and other complications.
- Disease risk factors: We are identifying populations that face a higher incidence of certain brain disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. Additional research will allow us to validate hypotheses and potentially develop surveillance protocols for early screening and intervention.
- Stroke prevention and recovery: Exome sequencing data is helping us study young stroke survivors to find out if genetics played a role in their survival. We are also working to uncover genetic factors that could affect a person’s recovery from stroke.