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On 14 November, NDCN's Autoimmune Neurology Group held an event for patients and public, to discuss the research on autoimmune encephalitis at the University of Oxford.

What is autoimmune encephalitis?

Autoimmune encephalitis is an illness affecting the brain. It can cause changes in thought, perception, and memory; seizures; and abnormal movements. In autoimmune encaphalitis, the immune system, which usually prevents infection, malfunctions. It turns against the brain via molecules called antibodies. 

The Oxford Autoimmune Neurology Group led by Sarosh Irani and Paddy Waters studies the cells which produce the antibodies, to work out which medications can destroy these cells and help reduce antibody levels.

What happened on the day?

The research team demystified what goes on in their lab, using a fun and interactive 'Ready Steady Assay!' demonstration based on a popular TV programme (see video below). Patients offered perspectives on their experiences of the condition, as well as what it is like to be involved in research. A representative from the Encephalitis Society explained the role of the charity, and there was an open forum on the future directions research in Oxford could take.

Huge thanks also for an amazingly informative and engaging day yesterday. It gave us all a much deeper understanding.
- Event attendee

How did it go?

All survey respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the event improved their knowledge about autoimmune encephalitis research in Oxford. They all said they would attend another similar event. Comments revealed that the most memorable part of the day was meeting other people affected by encephalitis, and hearing about the cutting-edge research going on here in Oxford.