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Dr Andrea Malaspina

Andrea

Reader in Clinical Neurology and Honorary Consultant Neurologist

Centre: Neuroscience and Trauma

Email: a.malaspina@qmul.ac.uk
Telephone: 020 7882 6239

Profile

Dr Malaspina graduated cum Laude at the University of Pavia in 1991. He started his Specialist Neurology Training in Italy, which he then completed in the UK while developing a joint-research project leading to a PhD in Molecular Neurobiology at Imperial College London. He has been a Consultant Neurologist at Barts Health and Basildon University Hospital since 2001, with an active role in Clinical Neurology and Neurophysiology and research interests in neuromuscular and motor cell disorders. In 2009, he has founded the North-East London and Essex Regional MND Care Centre where is currently the Co-Director. He has been the MND Research Director for DeNDRoN and for CRN North-Thames. In 2012, he took up a formal academic appointment as Clinical Senior Lecturer with the Barts and The London Medical School. Since 2015, as Reader in Clinical Neurology, he has led a multidisciplinary research group working on biomarkers discovery and on their clinical pre-validation. In the last 7 years, he has established a large bio banking project for neurodegenerative disorders based on longitudinal sampling and on the development of novel modalities of sample storage and biochemical assay optimization.

 

 

Summary

Dr Andrea Malaspina is the Co-Director of the North-East London and Essex Regional Care Centre for MND and the MND Research Lead for the CRN North Thames.

 

 

Teaching

Teaching and knowledge dissemination:

Teaching revolves around the understanding that medical and post-graduate BSc and MSc students should be exposed to the basic and translational science which feed into the work of the neurodegenerative biomarkers group and around the critical evaluation of the impact that this research has in clinical neuroscience. In the broader clinical neurological arena, dissemination of knowledge includes initiatives like the monthly “Biomarkers and Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration” and the yearly “Blizard Neuromuscular Symposium”, with the specific scope of bringing the main actors of scientific advances from Pharma in contact to (clinical) academic Researchers in the field of neurodegenerative biomarkers.

 

Undergraduate

MBBS, Lecturer & PBL facilitator
BSc Neuroscience (Intercalated), Lecturer and lab project supervisor


Postgraduate

MSc Neuroscience and Translational Medicine, Lecturer and lab project supervisor


Topics for PhD supervision

Development of biological markers of neurodegeneration in MND and in other neurological conditions; Definition of composition and conformation of neurofilament-containing circulating protein aggregates in health and disease. 


Professional Development

Educational activity for GP and Health Professionals in neuromuscular disorders
Essex Neurology Master Class

 


Research

Research Interests:

 Dr Malaspina's research and clinical interests extend to those neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory pathologies bridging brain and neuromuscular systems, with motor neurone disease as the main research focus. His group works on the discovery and clinical pre-validation of biomarkers of disease initiation and progression to be used for clinical monitoring of neurodegenerative disorders. TMT-proteomics is applied to investigate the interface between affected tissues and fluids from “fast” and “slow” progressing MND phenotypes in both patients and animal models of the disease and to explore the pathobiology of neurodegeneration from a systemic perspective.

He leads the neurodegenerative biomarkers group at the Blizard which is part of ANticipating & MOnitoring NEurodegeneration (ANeMONE). His research activities encompass assay development for the detection and characterization of neuronal cell components like neurofilaments, circulating protein aggregates, pathogenic auto-antibodies and markers linked to initiation and resolution of the inflammatory response including cytokines, acute phase reactants and specialized pro-resolving mediators.

He coordinates multi-disciplinary work to unravel composition and conformation of circulating protein aggregates which mirror central neuropathology, with recent funds from the MRC and QM Innovation to develop novel strategies for protein aggregate isolation and characterization and to optimize an aptamer-based approach for therapeutic modification of the aggregate state.

This research has inspired both interventional and observational studies harbouring the disease biomarkers that have been pre-clinically tested. These include: 1) The Modifying Immune Response and Outcomes in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (MIROCALS- http://www.mndassociation.org/news-and-events/2015-news/mirocals-new-mnd-clinical-trial-announced/, 2) A Multicentre Biomarker Resource Strategy in ALS (AMBRoSIA, http://www.mndassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/Brian-Dickie-Research-Today.pdf?1bcb49), 3) The ALS biomarkers study (http://www.mndassociation.org/research/mnd-research-and-you/get-involved-in-research/als-biomarkers-study/) and 4) ANticipating & MOnitoring NEurodegeneration (ANeMONE).

Innovative bio banking: Dr. Malaspina has created a biological platform to support research into molecular signals of disease recoverable from peripheral biological fluids, which builds on the concept of longitudinal collection of matched clinical data and biological samples from a variety of neurological disorders. The natural history of disease-specific biomarkers, from disease onset to late stage, is investigated from as early as the pre-symptomatic stage, with basic science feeding into new diagnostic models for neurodegeneration. The biological inventory relies also on novel and cost-effective room temperature storage methodologies.

 The novel concept of bio banking developed in the ALS biomarkers study aligned to other bio banking initiatives world-wide has recently inspired a similar UK-wide biological inventory: AMBRoSIA

 

 

Examples of research funding:

Funding and partnerships:

MRC, Wellcome Trust, NIHR, EU H2020-PHC, MND Association, Barts and The London Charities and QM Innovation.

 

Publications

Abdelkarim S, Morgan S, Plagnol V, Adamson G, Lu Ching-Hua, Howard R, Malaspina A, Orrell R, Sharma N, Sidle K, Clarke J, Fisher E, Hardy J, Rohrer J, Mead S, Pitman A, Fratta P. CHCHD10 Pro34Ser is not a highly penetrant pathogenic variant for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia. Brain, Brain 2016; 139(Pt 2):e9. doi: 10.1093/brain/awv223. PMID: 26362910.

 The PROGAS Group. A prospective multi-centre evaluation of gastrostomy in patients with motor neurone disease.  Lancet Neurol. 2015 Jul;14: 702-9. doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(15)00104-0. PMID: 26027943. 

Lu CH, Macdonald-Wallis C, Gray E, Pearce N, Petzold A, Norgren N, Giovannoni G, Fratta P, Sidle K, Fish M, Orrell R, Howard R, Talbot K, Greensmith L, Kuhle J, Turner MR, Malaspina A. Neurofilament light chain: A prognostic biomarker in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Neurology. 2015; 84: 2247-57. PMID: 25934855.

 Fratta P, Nirmalananthan N, Masset L, Skorupinska I, Collins T, Cortese A, Pemble S, Malaspina A, Fisher EM, Greensmith L, Hanna MG. Correlation of clinical and molecular features in spinal bulbar muscular atrophy. Neurology 2014; 82: 2077-84. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000000507. PMID: 24814851.

Johnson JO, Pioro EP, Boehringer A, Chia R, Feit H, Renton AE, Pliner HA, Abramzon Y, Marangi G, Winborn BJ, Gibbs JR, Nalls MA, Morgan S, Shoai M, Hardy J, Pittman A, Orrell RW, Malaspina A, Sidle KC, Fratta P, Harms MB, Baloh RH, Pestronk A, Weihl CC, Rogaeva E, Zinman L, Drory VE, Borghero G, Mora G, Calvo A, Rothstein JD; ITALSGEN Consortium, Drepper C, Sendtner M, Singleton AB, Taylor JP, Cookson MR, Restagno G, Sabatelli M, Bowser R, Chiò A, Traynor BJ. Mutations in the Matrin 3 gene cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Nat Neurosci 2014; 17: 664-6. PMID: 24686783.

Puentes F, Topping J, Kuhle J, van der Star BJ, Douiri A, Giovannoni G, Baker D, Amor S, Malaspina A. Immune reactivity to neurofilament proteins in the clinical staging of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2014; 85.  doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2013-305494. PMID: 24078718.

 

View all Andrea Malaspina's Research Publications at: http://www.researchpublications.qmul.ac.uk

PhD Supervision

Rocco Adiutori, MRC PhD student

 

 

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