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Inaugural symposium for Bristol Neuroscience

Press release issued: 29 September 2003

Important issues surrounding stroke and brain ischaemia were highlighted when more than one hundred people gathered for Bristol Neuroscience's first ever symposium.

Important issues surrounding stroke and brain ischaemia were highlighted when more than 100 people gathered for Bristol Neuroscience’s first ever symposium at the Kingsdown Conference Centre on Friday 19 September.

The symposium included both basic scientific research - the cutting edge of molecular and cellular biology - and the realities of the clinic - diagnosis of stroke, its treatment, and the huge impact stroke has on both the individual and the whole of society.  Bridging the two were representatives from the pharmaceutical industry discussing the question of how drug companies can develop scientific principles into drugs to be used in the clinic.

The day began with an introduction to Bristol Neuroscience from the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Eric Thomas.  Speakers included Nancy Rothwell, President of the British Neuroscience Association, Steve Williams from King’s College London, and Michael O'Neill, senior scientist at Eli Lilly and Company, as well as experts from Bristol.  They addressed an audience that included PhD students, consultants, research scientists, physiotherapists and many others with an interest in stroke.

The symposium revealed that a large gap exists between the questions being addressed in the lab and the problems faced by clinicians when treating patients hours or even days after an initial ischaemic episode.  Although research into aspects of brain ischaemia - such as the role of glutamate receptors, temperature, and interleukins - has made great progress and yielded drugs that appear to have huge potential, these drugs have consistently faltered during clinical trials. 

Optimism was high, however, that ways would be found to overcome this gap.  In order to do so, it is essential that research scientists and clinicians can work together more closely.  The new contacts that were made and ideas that emerged from the meeting will help to improve our understanding of the brain, and find real solutions for the treatment of stroke.

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