A crystal ball for Lab Land: Top 5 topics in 2015

Alzheimer’s protein pathology

While a wise Dane once proposed that predictions are dangerous, especially concerning the future, it’s usually helpful to plan ahead. Here are five biomedical research topics we think will occupy our attention in 2015.

1. Alzheimer’s We’re hearing discordant music coming from Alzheimer’s researchers. Large pharmaceutical companies are shutting down clinical trials in frustration, but researchers keep coming forward with biomarkers that might predict future disease. This confusing situation calls for some new thinking. Allan Levey, Jim Lah and colleagues have been preparing the way for a “beyond the usual suspects” look at Alzheimer’s disease. We are looking forward to Levey’s appearance at the 2015 AAAS meeting and to drug discovery wizard Keqiang Ye’s continuing work on new therapeutic targets.

2. Ebola While the scare over Ebola in the United States may be over (we hope so!), the outbreak continues to devastate countries in West Africa. Clinical trials testing vaccines and experimental drugs are underway or will be soon. So far, Emory doctors have been able to report how individual patients were successfully treated in a hospital setting here, even in the face of significant challenges. This year, we may start to see examples of how Emory researchers are contributing to vaccine and drug development efforts.

3. Hypersomnia David Rye and colleagues made a splash in 2012 with the successful treatment of a patient with idiopathic hypersomnia. We hear that some progress has been made on an alternative to once-scarce flumazenil and look forward to hearing more this year. A conference on hypersomnia held last year in Atlanta will return in July, this time to the Emory Conference Center Hotel. The keynote speaker will be neurologist Isabelle Arnulf from Paris.

4. Microbiome/antibiotic resistance This is a hot topic in biomedical research right now. The microbes that live on and in humans contribute to the function of the immune system (hat tip to Bali Pulendran), the nervous system, cardiovascular disease; the list goes on and on. Expect to see more from Emory researchers in this area. That includes investigators interested in antibiotic resistance.

5. Endovascular stroke Physicians specializing in stroke treatment have been making advances in the area of clot removal. Results from the MR CLEAN study in the Netherlands were at the edge of what is expected to be a wave of exciting clinical trial findings. Since the Marcus Stroke & Neuroscience Center at Grady Memorial Hospital was designed with this type of treatment in mind and Emory has top experts participating in these studies, look for more on this topic.

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Quinn Eastman

Science Writer, Research Communications qeastma@emory.edu 404-727-7829 Office

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