Pathophysiological factors in the diagnosis and treatment of the Guillain-Barré syndromes


  • Prof Hugh Willison

    University of Glasgow

Project summary

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is characterised by severe paralysis due to inflammation in peripheral nerves. More than 100 years after it was first described in 1916, we still know very little about what causes it. We know the disease is precipitated by a wide range of infections that induce antibodies as part of the normal protective immune response. However, in GBS cases, rogue antibodies are made by the immune system due to a mistake in immune programming and they inadvertently attack the nerves. 

We aim to understand how the rogue antibodies attack the nerves in the GBS disease variants, and how this information can be used to diagnose and treat the syndrome. We have developed experimental methods for large-scale screening of human GBS blood for abnormal antibodies. We have also developed mouse models based on the screening data that can examine disease pathways in nerve tissues and also test new treatments. 

Our overall goal is to improve understanding and treatment of GBS for future patients, healthcare providers and researchers using this translational research.