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New horizons for preterm brain protection: exploiting endogenous neuroprotection

65 months
Approved budget:
Associate Professor Mhoyra Fraser
Health issue:
Obstetric complications/perinatal care
Proposal type:
Lay summary
Many preterm infants develop brain injury around the time of birth, with a high risk of life-long disability. Currently, we have no effective way of preventing disability. Our preliminary findings using a well-established animal model of preterm brain injury suggest for the first time that delivery to the nose of a therapy that manipulates a critical endogenous neuroprotective anti-inflammatory mechanism can reduce damage to specialised cells, called oligodendrocytes. Survival of these cells is of paramount importance since they produce a fatty substance, called myelin, which serves to electrically insulate neurons thereby enabling proper transmission of brain waves throughout the central nervous system. Our findings suggest that it is possible to preserve these myelin-producing cells by supporting natural pathways in the brain. Thus, we will robustly test whether this intranasal therapy will have a sustainable long-term effect on survival of these myelin-producing cells following injury and improve recovery of brain waves.