Report by Prof. Tissa Wijeratne MD FRACP FRCP (Edin) FRCP (London) FAHA FAAN (USA)

It had been a fabulous 24th World Congress so far. The diversity of the speakers and delegates continue to make the world congress the premier event in neurology.  The day began with an enlightening teaching course on neuro-imaging with a packed audience.

Professor John Hardy from UCL, Institute of Neurology answered the following question with a masterful lecture: “What is genomics teaching us about neurodegeneration and what should we do about it?"

Prof. Hardy went on to address the issue in detail.  As researchers identify the loci involved in neurodegenerative disease, they are finding that the majority of them are involved in damage response processes. He went on to propose that it is a failure in these damage response processes which underlies late-onset disease and that the resultant pathology is a marker of the type of damage response which has failed. He gave the following three examples.

  1. Microglial clearance of damaged neuronal membranes in Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Ubiquitin proteasome clearance in tauopathies’
  3. Lysosomal clearance in Parkinson’s disease

He gave a detailed analysis of these and asked the question, with this insight how we could go about understanding and treating these diseases better?

The plenary gave us a ray of hope for future therapeutic potential for these disabling diseases.

Professor Tintore from Spain delivered the second plenary on multiple sclerosis.  The plenary explained the evolution of diagnostic criteria for MS with McDonald  2001, 2005, 2010 and 2017 allowing earlier diagnosis with less active disease.  Major advances in therapies, the importance of other factors such as lifestyle, comorbidities were discussed in detail.

Professor Reis and Wasay chaired the all-important environment and neurology symposium.

Air pollution as a major risk factor for stroke was discussed in detail.  Professor Gustavo Roman discussed the environmental neurotoxins in food.

The Tournament of the minds semi-finals were extremely competitive with a tie-break between Sri Lanka and Australia. I was reminded of the 1996 world cup cricket to say the least!

Sri Lanka, Malaysia, India and Hong Kong will be fighting for the final countdown next!