My laboratory's key focus over the last few years has been on the unusual neurological disease of Guam and the Western Pacific, ALS-parkinsonism dementia complex (ALS-PDC). I view this disease as a kind of neurological Rosetta Stone able to unlock some of the key questions in neurological disease research. For example: what are the causes of ALS, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's and what are the pre-clinical stages of each?
A second theme to our work is to seek potential therapeutic agents for existing neurological disease states using the above, and other, animal models. In particular, we are focusing our attention on progranulin, a neuroepithelial growth factor, and on a class of molecules called ginsenosides.
The last aspect of our work, and one that is still emerging, is to look at the potential for compounds such as aluminum to be neurotoxic. We are interested in the types of aluminum compounds that can cause neurodegeneration, their route of administration, the impact of dose and duration, and the crucial but largely unexplored aspects of age and sex. These studies are just beginning, but show great promise to help us understand the origin of neurological disorders as diverse as autism spectrum disorder and Alzheimer's disease.