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Advances in Research on Neurodegeneration
  1. ROGER BARKER

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    Advances in Research on Neurodegeneration. Volume 6. Edited by w poewe and g ransmayr. (Pp147, DM168). Published by Springer, Wien, 1999. ISBN 3 211 83262 9.

    This slim volume is the result of a small meeting held towards the end of 1997 by a largely European group of scientists designed to explore recent advances in the treatment of some neurodegenerative conditions. The result is a highly eclectic collection of short chapters ranging from the general to highly specific, which overall makes the book hard to follow and thus recommend. For example the second chapter discusses a whole variety of different types of myelin mutant mice, whereas three chapters later we are treated to a discussion on the inhibitory effects of apomorphine on the proliferative potential of a Chinese hamster ovary cell line.

    In addition the book tends to leap from clinical to scientific topics with no obvious linking sections; thus we move from a discussion on the newer dopamine agonists to others on animal models of multiple system atrophy and their treatment by neural transplantation. Indeed, the book, by presenting short, often unrelated topics, suffers from being misleading to the uninitiated reader. For example it begins with a chapter on neural precursor cells isolated from the rat spinal cord and their differentiation potential. This is an area of great current interest given the potential of these cells for repairing the damaged and diseased CNS. However this chapter, while, giving an insight to the field is bereft of companion chapters, and so it is not obvious to the newcomer how this chapter relates to embryonic stem (ES) cells, neural precursor cells from other mammalian species as well as those isolated from the adult CNS. Furthermore, it is not clear how the conclusions of the studies presented in this chapter relate to other strategies being adopted with neural precursor cells in animal models of Parkinson's disease, for example. Indeed many chapters can mislead the reader as a result of their failure to be put their topic fully into context—for example, the use of riluzole and gabapentin in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as discussed by Ludolph et al in their chapter. However, other chapters are more successful by virtue of being more balanced and as a result are more appealing. For example, the chapters by Karl Kiebutz on emerging drug therapies in Huntington's disease and Steve Dunnett on striatal grafts are particularly good examples of this.

    Overall, although the book presents a series of short unrelated articles that often contain biases and no overall context for interpretation, it is of use to people familiar with the field of restorative neuroscience, but even then it is often only helpful in summarising small islands of work. However, to those not familiar to the field, this book will be misleading and hard to follow, and as result it is unlikely to appeal to many neurologists or neuroscientists.

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