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Dr Axel Petzold
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer
  • Institute of Neurology
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences

I graduated from the Medical University of Freiburg (Germany). I received my MD (summa cum laude) in Experimental Ophthalmology with Ted Sharpe (University of Freiburg) and my PhD in Biochemistry with Ed Thompson (University College London). I trained as a neurologist in France (Lyon), Germany (Munich) and the United Kingdom (London). I work as consultant neurologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital London UK, the UCL Institute of Neurology and the VU Medical Center Amsterdam. My research interest is on axonal degeneration mainly in multiple sclerosis and optic nerve disease but also other diseases and models I can learn from.

Research Themes
Research Summary

Neuronal death and axonal degeneration are the key pathological processes disrupting the function of the nervous system. In contrast to demyelination and conduction block, axonal degeneration in the CNS is frequently irreversible and therefore a major cause of permanent disability. My research is focused on the detection, quantification and monitoring of neuronal cell death and axonal degeneration in vivo and in vitro.

The methods I originally developed and now use are based on biomarkers as a surrogate for neuronal death and axonal degeneration. These biomarkers are not only a potentially powerful secondary outcome measure for clinical treatment trials, but also a valuable tool in basic science.

I have used body fluid biomarkers to investigate the dynamics and prognostic value of neuronal death and axonal degeneration in a number of acute and chronic diseases: optic neuritis, multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica, subarachnoid haemorrhage, ischaemic stroke, traumatic brain injury, Guillain-Barré syndrome, West Nile Virus infection, encephalitis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multi-system atrophy, cortico-basal degeneration, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, fronto-temporal lobe dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Teaching Summary

The Neuroimmunology Unit of the Department of Neuroinflammation has a strong track record in supervising Msc, MD and PhD students. In my role within the Unit, I have co-supervised a number of students:

Mr J Sen "Extracellular fluid surrogate markers in acute brain injury: a longitudinal microdialysis study" MSc 2002. The project received a distinction and Mr Sen has finished his PhD at UCL extending on these studies and is now training as a neurosurgeon, keeping his academic interests alive.

Ms C Maduakor "Intracerebral microdialysis of S100B and nitric oxide metabolites: clinico-pathological correlations in traumatic brain injury" MSc 2003. The project received a distinction and Ms Maduakor is building on her neuroscience background by studying medicine.

Mr R Afinofi "In vivo biomarker recovery study of 20 & 100 kDa cut-off cerebral microdialysis catheters". MSc 2004. Mr Afinofi continues his research in neurocritical care and is currently doing his PhD on biomarkers of platelet function at UCL.

Dr ET Lim "Search for potential surrogate markers in neuroinflammatory disorders, in particular multiple sclerosis" MD 2005. Dr Lim is currently a neurological SpR.

Ms S McLernon "Cross-validation of methods for quantification of biomarkers in neurocritical care" MSc 2006. Ms McLernon has been essential to motivate and integrate the nursing team into our transdisciplinary research group at the NHNN. Ms McLernon is now a Senior Lecturer (Neuroscience) for Post-Registration Nursing at Imperial College London.

Mr M Tisdall is a key member of our successful research collaboration using cerebal microdialysis to identify secondary injury processes after acute brain injury. He holds a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship and completed his MD entitled "Non-invasive optical measurement of cerebral oxygenation, perfusion and cellular energy status: an opportunity to identify windows for targeted neuroprotection in traumatic brain injury?". Mr Tisdall has now taken up his SpR National Training Number in Neurosurgery.

Mr A Tarnaris "Biomarkers in idiopathic normal pressure hydrocephalus" MD (in progress). Mr Tarnaris has now taken up his SpR National Training number in Neurosurgery.

Mr A Patel "Biochemical markers of acute stroke and their correlation with physiolgocial variables? MSc 2006. Mr Patel is continuing his research into biomarkers in collaboration with Ms Dassan in parallel with finishing his medical studies.

Ms P Dassan ?Body fluid biomarkers in stroke? Ms Dassan is a PhD student in stroke medicine.

Mr A Costas "Extracellular fluid glial biomarkers" MSc (2007). Mr Costas project is focused on the measurement of glial biomarkers (S100B and GFAP) from the extracellular fluid of the CNS using microdialysis techniques.

Dr Ching-Hua Lu. Disease biomarkers in a SOD1-G93A mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and their translational potential in human disease?. Dr Lu is a qualified neurologist who started her PhD with us in September 2008.

Visiting research fellows focused on biomarkers for neuronal cell death and axonal degeneration: Dr K Rejdak (Lublin, Poland), Mr A Kay (Glasgow, UK), Dr P Mas (Toulouse, France), Dr A Bartos (Prague, Czech Republic), Dr Z Idrissova (Moscow, Russia), Dr E. Houzvickova (Prague, Czech Republic), Dr Y. Trufanov (Lugansk, Ukraine), Dr F Kamin (Rostock, Germany), Dr M Stock (Wuerzburg, Germany), Dr J Kuhle (Basel, Switzerland).

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