In a stellar meeting of the minds, the annual Marian S. Ware Neurodegenerative Disease Research Retreat took on a timely topic this year – the transmission of neurodegenerative disease pathologies – and brought some of the brightest researchers in the field together to debate commonalities and differences between diseases.
“It’s an exciting time to get everybody together because there are so many things to discuss and share,” said event chair Virginia Lee, PhD, MBA, director of the Penn Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research.
Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02) was on hand for the symposium, and met with the presenters during the poster session.
Throughout the day, world leaders in prions, amyloid-beta, tau and alpha-synuclein transmission spoke about their understanding of how various strains pass from other cells while causing damage along the way.
At the end of the day, the group debated whether the diseases were all “prion-like,” with many arguing that they were not similar enough, even though there were some commonalities between the proteins, to call them all prion-like. The group discussed practical implications, such as issues with stigma associated with infectious prions, causing many in the group to pause and concede that perhaps a new term needed to be developed all together.