Appointment of Josep Dalmau, Group leader
In neuroscience as in medicine, nothing is more exciting than to discover a new disease and try to understand its physiopathology. These are the paths to the treatment of patients and their ultimate cure

Current research

Problem

The group is interested in identifying the causes of acquired brain diseases of unknown origin, especially autoimmune brain diseases, describing their symptoms, developing diagnostic tests, and identifying better treatments.

Approach

The group aims to discover the mechanisms of these diseases and uses neuron cultures and animal models to that end. It studies how autoimmunity alters the structure and function of the neurons and brain circuits to cause changes in behaviour or memory, or other neurological symptoms.

It identifies patients through national and international consultations, obtains information and biological samples (generally blood or cerebrospinal fluid) from these patients and applies different study techniques: antibody screening with immune staining using brain tissue, immunocytochemistry with cell preparations and brain receptor expression techniques in cell assays.

The group also carries out other studies that include immunoprecipitation and sequencing of neuronal proteins, determination of the effects of antibodies at the synaptic and brain-circuit level, and effects on animal behaviour.

Impact

The impact has been considerable. The group has discovered 11 diseases, developed diagnostic guidelines for autoimmune brain disease, modified diagnostic and treatment paradigms in neurology and psychiatry, and created diagnostic tests.

It has discovered the basic mechanisms of these diseases and produced animal models. It has written chapters on the diseases in the most important books on internal medicine (Harrison), paediatrics (Nelson), neurology (Daroff) and oncology (Abeloff). Two members of the group appear on the Clarivate list as highly cited authors in neuroscience and behaviour.