Professor of Neurology and Neuroimaging Marios Politis is the Director of Neurodegeneration Imaging Group. Professor Politis has conducted extensive research in the field of neurodegenerative disorders and his papers have been published by several high-impact scientific journals, including the Lancet, Nature and Science journals.
This article will look at an Exeter University study of motor neurone disease led by Professor Marios Politis.
Also known as motor neurone disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a condition that causes the gradual deterioration and death of motor neurons, inhibiting the brain’s ability to send signals to the muscles and preventing them from functioning properly. Scientists have established that the disease is inherited in 5-10% of cases, but for the rest, the cause is unknown.
Dentist and former Penzance football manager and player Dean Mooney found that his life changed dramatically after he was diagnosed with ALS. The 52-year-old is now appealing to others with the disease to join him in new brain-imaging research implemented with the aim of developing new treatments for the condition. Led by Professor Marios Politis, the team from the University of Exeter’s pioneering Neurodegeneration Imaging Group is appealing for people with ALS to get in touch and participate in the year-long study.
Dean Mooney’s first symptoms of ALS were a mild tremor in his arm and stiffness in his left hand. Originally from Ireland, the father-of-four moved to the UK at the age of 16, studying at dental school two years early due to his academic ability.
Dean Mooney has lived in Penzance for more than 20 years. When he first noticed his symptoms, he was not really worried, although in his work as a dentist it was an irritation and interfered with his sailing abilities. He simply attributed it to dehydration or too much caffeine.
However, as lockdown came and went in 2020, he found his condition worsened. When he received his ALS diagnosis and told his wife and children, he says it was a terrible time, even causing him to research euthanasia clinics in Switzerland. However, six months after diagnosis, he realised the disease was not progressing as fast as he feared, and he realised he needed to make the most of life.
Dean Mooney readily signed up to the Exeter University study. Although he accepts it may not benefit him in his lifetime, he said he is willing to do whatever it takes to get the research over the line and spare anyone else having to go through what he has. The study involves cutting-edge MRI and PET brain scans at the Invicro Imaging Centre in London, with travel and accommodation costs reimbursed for each participant and a companion (and some compensation for time).