Dr Andrew Swayner – Senior Lecturer, University of Queensland
Brains on fire: a new disease affecting Queenslanders, under the microscope
A mystery new disease that affects Queenslanders is being uncovered by UQ and Mater researcher Dr Andrew Swayne.
A devastating disorder where the immune system attacks the brain, called autoimmune encephalitis, is having a significant impact in Queensland.
Our brain is vital for our experience of ourselves and our body relies on an immune system to determine friend from foe.
“But what happens when our immune system gets it wrong? When it attacks our brain it can cause a condition where sufferers may ‘lose themselves’,” Dr Swayne explains.
“One of the most difficult things that patients experience when diagnosed with a rare disease is a feeling of isolation,” he says.
“This research not only demonstrates the impact of autoimmune encephalitis in Queensland and improves the chances of early diagnosis and treatment but shows sufferers that they are not alone.”
The next steps, researchers say, are to continue to study the local effects of autoimmune encephalitis and to understand what is happening in the brain in order to better help Queenslanders affected by this disease.
Dr Swayne works with colleagues including A/Professor Stefan Blum, Dr Marcus Gray and Professor Pamela McCombe