Professor Andrea Malaspina
Honorary Professor of Neurology
Centre: Centre for Neuroscience, Surgery and Trauma
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 becoming involved in research on neurodegenerative diseases, 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 research interests in neuromuscular and motor cell disorders. In 2009, he founded the Barts Health MND Care and Research Centre, of which he 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. As Reader in Clinical Neurology from 2015 and as Professor of Neurology from 2019, he leads the multidisciplinary Neurodegeneration Research Group at the Blizard Institute, working on biomarkers and therapeutic targets discovery in neurodegeneration. In the last 10 years he has been in the driving seat of the establishment of some of the largest bio banking projects for neurodegenerative disorders based on longitudinal sampling and novel modalities of sample storage which support research into biomarkers and therapeutics for neurodegeneration.
Teaching and knowledge dissemination:
Dr. Malaspina’s contribute to teaching revolves around the principle that medical and post-graduate students should be exposed to basic and translational science and around the critical evaluation of the impact that his research has in clinical neuroscience. Dissemination of knowledge includes initiatives like the monthly “Biomarkers and Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration” and the yearly “Blizard Neuromuscular Symposium”, bringing the main actors of scientific advances from Pharma in contact with (clinical and basic science) academic researchers in the field of neurodegeneration. Patients and public involvement on most recent research initiatives is maintained in collaboration with the Motor Neuron Disease Association (https://mndresearch.blog/tag/andrea-malaspina/; https://www.mndassociation.org/research/mnd-research-and-you/get-involved-in-research/als-biomarkers-study/).
MBBS, Lecturer & PBL facilitator
BSc Neuroscience (Intercalated), Lecturer and lab project supervisor
MSc Neuroscience and Translational Medicine, Co-organizer of the Neurodegeneration module.
Lecturer and lab project supervisor
Dr Malaspina's research and clinical interests encompass neurodegenerative and neuroinflammatory pathologies bridging brain and the neuromuscular system, with motor neurone disease as the main research focus. His group has established a multi-disciplinary experimental approach for the identification and clinical validation of molecular signals linked to disease initiation and progression which can be developed into biomarkers and therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative disorders. Central to this research endeavour in both patients and animal models is the search for molecular mechanism which explain phenotypic heterogeneity in neurodegenerative disorders which can progress at strikingly different speeds. Dr Malaspina’s is the lead of the Neurodegeneration group at the Blizard, whose main research focus is the molecular interplay between affected tissues and fluids in the natural history of neurodegeneration. Building on a wealth of clinical data and tissues from well-characterised patient research cohorts, it has been possible to assemble a systemic perspective of disease progression by tracking the expression of molecules linked to the immune response, metabolism and also linked to replicative senescence in individuals with neurodegenerative disorders. Work on biomarkers includes the detection of naturally occurring auto-antibodies, of markers linked to initiation and resolution of inflammation and on neurofilaments as well as circulating protein aggregates which mirror central neuropathology.
This research has inspired the participation to both interventional and observational studies including:
1) The Modifying Immune Response and Outcomes in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (MIROCALS)
2) A Multicentre Biomarker Resource Strategy in ALS (AMBRoSIA)
3) The ALS biomarkers study (https://mndresearch.blog/tag/als-biomarkers-study/)
Innovative bio banking: Dr. Malaspina has created or supported the creation of clinical and biological platforms for biomarkers discovery. This work draws on the concept of longitudinal collection of matched clinical data and biological samples from a variety of neurological disorders, from pre-symptomatic to late stage disease, to enable the identification of biological markers and track the natural history of the disease. The biological inventory relies also on novel and cost-effective room-temperature storage. This concept has been applied to UK-wide biological inventory and aligned to other bio banking initiatives world-wide including the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (CReATE) and Pre-Fals in the US.
Leoni E, Bremang M, Mitra V, Zubiri I, Jung S, Lu CH, Adiutori R, Lombardi V, Russell C, Koncarevic S, Ward M, Pike I, Malaspina A. Combined Tissue-Fluid Proteomics to Unravel Phenotypic Variability in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Sci Rep. 2019 14; 9: 4478. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-40632-4. PMID: 30872628.
Lombardi V, Querin G, Ziff OJ, Zampedri L, Martinelli I, Heller C, Foiani M, Bertolin C, Lu CH, Malik B, Allen K, Rinaldi C, Zetterberg H, Heslegrave A, Greensmith L, Hanna M, Soraru G, Malaspina A, Fratta P. Muscle and not neuronal biomarkers correlate with severity in spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy. Neurology. 2019; 92. PMID: 30787165.
Zubiri I, Lombardi V, Bremang M, Mitra V, Nardo G, Adiutori R, Lu CH, Leoni E, Yip P, Yildiz O, Ward M, Greensmith L, Bendotti C, Pike I, Malaspina A. Tissue-enhanced plasma proteomic analysis for disease stratification in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Mol Neurodegener. 2018; 13: 60. PMID: 30404656.
Benatar M, Wuu J, Andersen PM, Lombardi V, Malaspina A. Neurofilament light: A candidate biomarker of presymptomatic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and phenoconversion. Ann Neurol. 2018; 84: 130-139. PMID: 30014505.
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.