What is Neurodegenerative Disease?

Neurons with electrical impulsesNeurodegenerative disease is an umbrella term for a range of conditions which primarily affect the neurons in the human brain.

Neurons are the building blocks of the nervous system which includes the brain and spinal cord. Neurons normally don’t reproduce or replace themselves, so when they become damaged or die they cannot be replaced by the body. Examples of neurodegenerative diseases include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s disease.

Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable and debilitating conditions that result in progressive degeneration and / or death of nerve cells. This causes problems with movement (called ataxias), or mental functioning (called dementias).

Dementias are responsible for the greatest burden of disease with Alzheimer’s representing approximately 60-70% of cases.

The neurodegenerative diseases that JPND focuses on are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias
  • Parkinson’s disease (PD) and PD-related disorders
  • Prion disease
  • Motor neurone diseases (MND)
  • Huntington’s Disease (HD)
  • Spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA)
  • Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)