Like all sciences, neuroscience is collaborative. New Zealand researchers make an important contribution to the global effort to better understand the brain, and to develop better treatments for neurological disorders.
Here is some of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) research taking place globally that we are keeping an eye on.
(Please note the Neurological Foundation doesn’t contribute funding to any of these projects):
Erasmus University Rotterdam
- Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) is a form of human prion disease, which causes specific proteins to form incorrectly and accumulate in the brain, which can only be confirmed post
mortem or by a brain biopsy. There are seven different subtypes of this disease, each with its own symptoms, requiring different clinical management. Researchers from Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands have developed a method using
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), to determine the specific subtype of sCJD in living patients. This will increase their access to relevant care and appropriate symptom management.
Heidelberg University Hospital
- Wilson disease (WD) is a genetic disorder caused by a mutation in
the gene responsible for processing copper. This results in accumulation
of copper in the organs, particularly the brain and liver, resulting in organ damage, impairment of motor function (neurological deficits) and onset of mental illness (psychiatric disorders). Researchers from Heidelberg University Hospital have found a new marker called
metallothionein, which appears to be an extremely specific biomarker for accurate diagnosis of WD. This could help with earlier identification of patients who may have WD, as it is complex to diagnose.
- Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive form of brain cancer and there is currently no cure. This is due to challenges in developing a treatment that can first, cross the blood- brain barrier and second, target cancer cells but not healthy brain tissue. A team from Soochow
University have engineered a type of protein that can be given in the blood, which can successfully cross the blood-brain barrier and selectively target only GBM cells without affecting healthy brain tissue. This holds promise for the development of successful GBM treatments.
- Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a disorder that affects the part of the brain responsible for coordination, eye movement and speech. It is caused by the accumulation of a protein, called tau, in the brain. A clinical trial using sodium selenate as a treatment for PSP is underway at six hospitals and research institutes across Australia. This study will evaluate whether sodium selenate can modify the disease course to reduce symptoms and increase quality of life for people with PSP.
A discriminative event-based model for subtype diagnosis of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease using brain MRI
Engineering blood-brain barrier-permeable and tumor cell-ingestible pro-proteins for glioblastoma treatment
Metallothionein: a game changer in histopathological diagnosis of Wilson disease
Sodium selenate as a disease-modifying treatment for progressive supranuclear palsy: protocol for a phase 2, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial