The field of autoimmune neurology represents a subspecialty of neurology that deals with autoimmune pathologies of the nervous system other than Multiple Sclerosis. The consolidation of this entity derives from the great progress made, in particular, in neuroimmunological laboratory diagnostics, which in recent years has made it possible to identify and characterize new pathologies often accumulated by the presence of autoantibodies. Such diseases include, for example, optic neuromyelitis, a demyelinating disease in differential diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis, and autoimmune encephalitis, complex diseases in differential diagnosis with dementia, schizophrenia, and epilepsy.
The branch of autoimmune neurology has two peculiar characteristics: a) the relevant pathologies are almost always extremely rare, making their study difficult; b) the pathologies are frequently, although not always, associated with the presence of autoantibodies. For these reasons, the study of these pathologies inevitably requires researchers with transversal skills that involve both the clinic and laboratory diagnostics, who are able to work in large networks that guarantee adequate population numbers.
The creation of the Italian Network for the study of Autoimmune Neurology of the Italian Association of Neuroimmunology, therefore, represents a first step toward the promotion of a virtuous model of a scientific study group, in which researchers can freely propose projects and share their data and biological samples, with the certainty of compliance with the rules inherent to the ownership of scientific data and public authorship.
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AINI Associazione Italiana di Neuroimmunologia