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1.  The Impact on the Family Carer of Motor Neurone Disease and Intervention with Noninvasive Ventilation 
Journal of Palliative Medicine  2013;16(12):1602-1609.
Abstract
Background: The diagnosis of motor neurone disease (MND) has a profound effect on the functioning and well-being of both the patient and their family, with studies describing an increase in carer burden and depression as the disease progresses.
Aim: This study aimed to assess whether patient use of noninvasive ventilation (NIV) impacted on their family carer, and to explore other sources of carer burden.
Design: The study used qualitative interviews and scaled measures of carer health and well-being completed at three monthly intervals until patient end of life.
Participants: Sixteen family carers were followed up over a period ranging from one month to two years.
Results: NIV was perceived as having little impact on carer burden. The data however highlighted a range of sources of other burdens relating to the physical strain of caring. The Medical Outcomes Study Short Form (SF-36 Health Survey) Physical Component Summary (PCS) scores were considerably below that of the Mental Component Summary (MCS) score at baseline and at all following time points. Carers described the physical effort associated with patient care and role change; the challenge inherent in having time away; and problems relating to the timing of equipment and service delivery.
Conclusions: NIV can be recommended to patients without concerns regarding increasing carer burden. The predominant source of burden described related to the physical impact of caring for a patient with MND. Services face challenges if this physical burden is to be reduced by providing equipment at an optimal time and successfully coordinating their input.
doi:10.1089/jpm.2013.0211
PMCID: PMC3868397  PMID: 24236958
2.  C9ORF72 expansions, parkinsonism, and Parkinson disease 
Neurology  2013;81(9):808-811.
Objective:
To determine the histopathologic bases for the observed incidence of parkinsonism in families with C9ORF72 expansions, which typically cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and/or frontotemporal dementia.
Methods:
DNA was extracted from 377 brains with the histopathologic diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson disease or related disorders and analyzed for C9ORF72 expansions. α-Synuclein and p62 immunohistochemistry of the substantia nigra (SN) was undertaken in brains of 17 ALS cases with (C9ORF72+) and 51 without (C9ORF72−) the C9ORF72 expansion.
Results:
Only 1 of 338 cases with pathologically confirmed idiopathic Parkinson disease had a C9ORF72 expansion. Similarly, only 1 of 17 C9ORF72+ brains displayed features suggestive of α-synucleinopathy. In contrast, p62-positive, TDP-43–negative neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions within the SN were considerably more frequent in C9ORF72+ brain tissue than in the C9ORF72− brains (p = 0.005). Furthermore, there was a more marked loss of dopaminergic neurons in the SN of C9ORF72+ ALS brains than C9ORF72− ALS brains (p = 0.029).
Conclusions:
SN involvement is common in C9ORF72+ ALS but can be clearly distinguished from Parkinson disease–related mechanisms by the presence of p62-positive inclusions and the absence of α-synuclein–positive Lewy bodies or Lewy neurites.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182a2cc38
PMCID: PMC3908460  PMID: 23884045
3.  A new zebrafish model produced by TILLING of SOD1-related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis replicates key features of the disease and represents a tool for in vivo therapeutic screening 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2013;7(1):73-81.
Mutations in the superoxide dismutase gene (SOD1) are one cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis [ALS; also known as motor neuron disease (MND)] in humans. ALS is a relentlessly progressive neurodegenerative disease and, to date, there are no neuroprotective therapies with significant impact on the disease course. Current transgenic murine models of the disease, which overexpress mutant SOD1, have so far been ineffective in the identification of new therapies beneficial in the human disease. Because the human and the zebrafish (Danio rerio) SOD1 protein share 76% identity, TILLING (‘targeting induced local lesions in genomes’) was carried out in collaboration with the Sanger Institute in order to identify mutations in the zebrafish sod1 gene. A T70I mutant zebrafish line was characterised using oxidative stress assays, neuromuscular junction (NMJ) analysis and motor function studies. The T70I sod1 zebrafish model offers the advantage over current murine models of expressing the mutant Sod1 protein at a physiological level, as occurs in humans with ALS. The T70I sod1 zebrafish demonstrates key features of ALS: an early NMJ phenotype, susceptibility to oxidative stress and an adult-onset motor neuron disease phenotype. We have demonstrated that the susceptibility of T70I sod1 embryos to oxidative stress can be used in a drug screening assay, to identify compounds that merit further investigation as potential therapies for ALS.
doi:10.1242/dmm.012013
PMCID: PMC3882050  PMID: 24092880
MND; ALS; SOD1; Zebrafish
4.  Clinico-pathological features in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with expansions in C9ORF72 
Brain  2012;135(3):751-764.
Intronic expansion of the GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat within the C9ORF72 gene causes frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease in both familial and sporadic cases. Initial reports indicate that this variant within the frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis spectrum is associated with transactive response DNA binding protein (TDP-43) proteinopathy. The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease phenotype is not yet well characterized. We report the clinical and pathological phenotypes associated with pathogenic C9ORF72 mutations in a cohort of 563 cases from Northern England, including 63 with a family history of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. One hundred and fifty-eight cases from the cohort (21 familial, 137 sporadic) were post-mortem brain and spinal cord donors. We screened DNA for the C9ORF72 mutation, reviewed clinical case histories and undertook pathological evaluation of brain and spinal cord. Control DNA samples (n = 361) from the same population were also screened. The C9ORF72 intronic expansion was present in 62 cases [11% of the cohort; 27/63 (43%) familial, 35/500 (7%) cases with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease]. Disease duration was significantly shorter in cases with C9ORF72-related amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (30.5 months) compared with non-C9ORF72 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease (36.3 months, P < 0.05). C9ORF72 cases included both limb and bulbar onset disease and all cases showed combined upper and lower motor neuron degeneration (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Thus, clinically, C9ORF72 cases show the features of a relatively rapidly progressive, but otherwise typical, variant of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis associated with both familial and sporadic presentations. Dementia was present in the patient or a close family member in 22/62 cases with C9ORF72 mutation (35%) based on diagnoses established from retrospective clinical case note review that may underestimate significant cognitive changes in late disease. All the C9ORF72 mutation cases showed classical amyotrophic lateral sclerosis pathology with TDP-43 inclusions in spinal motor neurons. Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions and glial inclusions positive for p62 immunostaining in non-motor regions were strongly over-represented in the C9ORF72 cases. Extra-motor pathology in the frontal cortex (P < 0.0005) and the hippocampal CA4 subfield neurons (P < 0.0005) discriminated C9ORF72 cases strongly from the rest of the cohort. Inclusions in CA4 neurons were not present in non-C9ORF72 cases, indicating that this pathology predicts mutation status.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr365
PMCID: PMC3286332  PMID: 22366792
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72; dementia; neurodegeneration
5.  Protocol for diaphragm pacing in patients with respiratory muscle weakness due to motor neurone disease (DiPALS): a randomised controlled trial 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:74.
Background
Motor neurone disease (MND) is a devastating illness which leads to muscle weakness and death, usually within 2-3 years of symptom onset. Respiratory insufficiency is a common cause of morbidity, particularly in later stages of MND and respiratory complications are the leading cause of mortality in MND patients. Non Invasive Ventilation (NIV) is the current standard therapy to manage respiratory insufficiency. Some MND patients however do not tolerate NIV due to a number of issues including mask interface problems and claustrophobia. In those that do tolerate NIV, eventually respiratory muscle weakness will progress to a point at which intermittent/overnight NIV is ineffective. The NeuRx RA/4 Diaphragm Pacing System was originally developed for patients with respiratory insufficiency and diaphragm paralysis secondary to stable high spinal cord injuries. The DiPALS study will assess the effect of diaphragm pacing (DP) when used to treat patients with MND and respiratory insufficiency.
Method/Design
108 patients will be recruited to the study at 5 sites in the UK. Patients will be randomised to either receive NIV (current standard care) or receive DP in addition to NIV. Study participants will be required to complete outcome measures at 5 follow up time points (2, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months) plus an additional surgery and 1 week post operative visit for those in the DP group. 12 patients (and their carers) from the DP group will also be asked to complete 2 qualitative interviews.
Discussion
The primary objective of this trial will be to evaluate the effect of Diaphragm Pacing (DP) on survival over the study duration in patients with MND with respiratory muscle weakness. The project is funded by the National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme (project number 09/55/33) and the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Henry Smith Charity. Trial Registration: Current controlled trials ISRCTN53817913. The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the HTA programme, NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-74
PMCID: PMC3462709  PMID: 22897892
6.  Diagnosis and management of motor neurone disease 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;336(7645):658-662.
doi:10.1136/bmj.39493.511759.BE
PMCID: PMC2270983  PMID: 18356234
7.  Validation of the historical adulthood physical activity questionnaire (HAPAQ) against objective measurements of physical activity 
Background
Lifetime physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) is an important determinant of risk for many chronic diseases but remains challenging to measure. Previously reported historical physical activity (PA) questionnaires appear to be reliable, but their validity is less well established.
Methods
We sought to design and validate an historical adulthood PA questionnaire (HAPAQ) against objective PA measurements from the same individuals. We recruited from a population-based cohort in Cambridgeshire, UK, (Medical Research Council Ely Study) in whom PA measurements, using individually calibrated heart rate monitoring, had been obtained in the past, once between 1994 and 1996 and once between 2000 and 2002. 100 individuals from this cohort attended for interview. Historical PA within the domains of home, work, transport, sport and exercise was recalled using the questionnaire by asking closed questions repeated for several discrete time periods from the age of 20 years old to their current age. The average PAEE from the 2 periods of objective measurements was compared to the self-reported data from the corresponding time periods in the questionnaire.
Results
Significant correlations were observed between HAPAQ-derived and objectively measured total PAEE for both time periods (Spearman r = 0.44; P < 0.001). Similarly, self-reported time spent in vigorous PA was significantly correlated with objective measurements of vigorous PA (Spearman r = 0.40; P < 0.001).
Conclusions
HAPAQ demonstrates convergent validity for total PAEE and vigorous PA. This instrument will be useful for ranking individuals according to their past PA in studies of chronic disease aetiology, where activity may be an important underlying factor contributing to disease pathogenesis.
doi:10.1186/1479-5868-7-54
PMCID: PMC2902409  PMID: 20576086

Results 1-7 (7)