New biomarkers for neurodegenerative disease

Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus (NPH) is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain’s ventricles. NPH causes prominent cognitive and motor symptoms and eventually leads to dementia. NPH is often misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as symptoms overlap and methods for accurate diagnosis are missing. Unlike other neurodegenerative diseases, NPH can be treated by brain surgery and implantation of a shunt, which removes excess of cerebrospinal fluid from the ventricles. However, because of the challenge of correctly diagnosing the disease, less than half of the patients undergoing brain surgery experience benefits. 

The goal of this project is to identify molecular biomarkers for NPH diagnosis and the prediction of shunt surgery benefits. The project's multidisciplinary team has undertaken a holistic approach that leverages state-of-the-art molecular biology tools and data science approaches to determine the molecular mechanisms underlying NPH symptoms and disease progression. By integrating data from multi-omics platforms, the researchers aim to develop a rapid, accurate and cost-effective diagnostic test. 

This project is supported by a Carney Innovation Award and a seed award from Brown's Office of the Vice President for Research. The team has also launched Adelle Diagnostics, Inc., a Brown University-affiliated start-up, to undertake the commercialization of the diagnostic test. 

Research Leads

  • Alexander Fleischmann

    Provost's Associate Professor of Brain Science, Associate Professor of Neuroscience

    Neural circuits representation of sensory perception and behavior

  • Petra Klinge

    Professor of Neurosurgery

    Hydrocephalus surgical treatment and translational research, adult onset tethered cord, occult tethered cord syndrome, and chiari malformation and cognition

  • Thomas Serre

    Associate Director of the Center for Computational Brain Science, Director for the Center for Computation and Visualization, Associate Professor of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, Associate Professor of Computer Science

    Understanding the neural computations supporting visual perception

  • Maria Grazia Ruocco

    Project Manager

  • Danny Warshay

    Executive Director, Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship