Research Objectives

Research at the BiHELab focuses on fundamental questions in geriatrics and neurodegeneration. Exploiting the power of a range of model organisms and the latest molecular, imaging and electrophysiological and computational technologies in neuroscience, BiHELab scientists explore some of the key processes underlying neuronal function and behavior. Faculty research interests are relevant for understanding neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, autism-spectrum disorders, depression, anxiety, epilepsy and insomnias.

Alzheimer Disease

While Neurological Diseases affects over 40 million of people worldwide with tremendous economic consequences for the humankind, the World Dementia Associationʼs Report (2012) shows that early diagnosis and early intervention are important mechanisms by which the treatment gap can be closed.

Focused on this approach, Professor Vlamos and his team have already published a combined statistical test for potential Alzheimer’s (AD) patients in order to achieve the earlier diagnosis. The sensitivity and specificity of this protocol in combination with clinical assessment is calculated over 95%.

Parkinson Disease

While Parkinsonʼs disease (PD) is a chronic and progressive movement disorder, no one can predict which symptoms will affect an individual patient. At the present time there is no cure for PD but instead a variety of alternative treatments provide relief from the symptoms. Due to these unpromising factors, we plan to design a new multi-scale ontology-based modeling technology for the accurate diagnosis of Parkinsonʼs disease and its progress monitoring as the first deliverable of our project.

At the Bihelab we have designed a novel model for the association of several heterogeneous patientsʼ data and extraction of various biomarkers. The entries of our system mainly consist of data from the patientʼs health record. Patientʼs health record consists of a range of data, including PD progress monitoring data, PD associated genes and patientʼs demographic data.

At the next level the system aims to evaluate patientʼs status with PD corresponding treatments using a multilayer neural network. This network will use supervised learning technics for training data in order to define the relevance and efficiency of any new biomarkers.

In particular, research is carried out along the following main axes:

  • Mitochondrial Biogenesis- Disruption of Mitochondrial Dynamics
  • Amyloid-β Interaction and Metal Ions
  • Evaluation of Mitochondrial Population as a Dynamic System
  • Frequencies and Electromagnetic Analysis in the Mitochondrial population
  • Cell Signaling and Autophagy
  • Metal Ions Metabolim and mtDNA Analysis
  • Regulation of Cancer Signaling Pathways
  • Cellular Protein Network Collapses- Protein Misfolding and Aggregation Roles in Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Molecular Mechanisms and Signaling Pathways contributing to Neuronal Dysfunction

The modern biophysics seems to offer powerful tools that are not yet been applied in bioengineering and molecular biology. The future of neuroscience relies on novel approaches and technological advancements in order to develop new drug targets, and novel protocols for early diagnosis of neurogenerative diseases. At the BiHELab, we are building on the information garnered from genomics and computational modeling analysis to develop a systems approach to complex biological processes.

Huntington Disease

Huntington’s disease (also known as Huntington’s chorea) is an autosomal-dominant, neurodegenerative, monogenic, fully penetrant and inherited disorder of the brain. The disease is caused by the mutation of the IT15 gene that produces a protein called huntingtin (htt) on chromosome 4p16.52. The mutation is based on the continuous repetition of the trinucleotide CAG which in turn makes the protein toxic for the brain cells. As a result neurons which contain the mutant protein begun to atrophy. The loss of those brain cells can cause many problems to the patients, even death. Huntington’s disease gene is primarily expressed in the brain. In Huntington’s disease symptoms can emerge at any time since the birth and after, though they primarily occur between the ages of 35-50 years (40-50 CAG repeats). The aim of research is to examine EEG recordings of patients with Huntington’s disease and control subjects in order to suggest a model of early diagnosis of the diseases.

Neuroeducation

Neuroeducation (Educational Neuroscience) is a fairly recent interdisciplinary scientific field that brings together researchers of developmental cognitive neuroscience, educational psychology, educational technology, education theory and other related disciplines. Their collective efforts focus on the interaction of biological processes with learning: Researchers of educational neuroscience revise the neural mechanisms of reading, numerical cognition, attention in combination to learning difficulties that include dyslexia, dyscalculia, and ADHD. In that respect, Neurocognitive science is combined and evaluated in contrast to educational context.

Research within the frame of Neuroeducation aims to enhance the relation between education and neuroscience while the ability of the brain to learn is investigated within the context of education. Research design and methods in educational neuroscience involve using neuroscientific tools such as brain image technologies to investigate cognitive functions and inform educational practices. The study of various aspects of neuroscience which relate to the task in hand, aims to provide improved learning and new teaching methods.