Melbourne medical school researchers study degenerative diseases

29 October 2014

Medical researchers from the University of Melbourne have established how two diseases that present in similar ways are in fact quite different.

University of Melbourne Medical School
University of Melbourne, Victoria

Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) have overlapping symptoms but remain difficult to distinguish.
However, a first ever paper on the topic published in the Journal of Neuropsychology (British Psychological Society publication) now suggests that people with PSP experience more severe and extensive cognitive impairments  than those with PD early on.
The study indicates that patients with PSP experience more severe and extensive impairments in higher order functions such as planning, abstract thinking, memory retrieval than those with PD.
Lead researcher Dr Young-Eun Claire Lee said the two conditions are so similar that in some cases, patients with PSP often go undiagnosed for the main part of their illness.
“PD and PSP are the two of the most common forms of neurodegenerative diseases resulting in loss of balance and deterioration in mobility,” said Dr Lee.
“Telling these differences apart can be challenging because most patients with PSP do not develop distinctive symptoms such as paralysis or weakness of the eye muscles and episodes of frequent falling until later stage.”
While the study sample was small, the results indicate that cognitive profiles may aid differential diagnosis in earlier stages. PSP claimed the life of musician/actor Dudley Moore.
There are no current treatments for PSP.

Research at Melbourne Medical School

Researchers in the Melbourne Medical School contribute significantly to the University of Melbourne’s success in being ranked 16th in the world (and the premier Australian university) according to the Times Higher Education discipline rankings 2012-13, for clinical, pre-clinical and health research. The research focused Shanghai Jiao Tong University Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) for 2012 in the Broad Field of Clinical Medicine and Pharmacy gives Melbourne a ranking of 35 which is the highest rank for the GO8 universities. Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment gives an impressive 50% of publications A* and A quality for Melbourne Medical publications.

Major Disease Focus

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular
  • Diabetes, Obesity & Endocrinology
  • Infection & Immunity
  • Neurosciences


Would you like more information about medical research at the University of Melbourne? Are you interested in studying at Melbourne Medical School? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Medical Schools Admissions Officer Broghan Dean at or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.