The how and why of neuroprotection

Finding the right medicine is sometimes just the first step on a long road – for researchers working to prevent newborn brain injury, understanding how it works is the bigger goal.

L–R: Dr Robert Galinsky and Ms Nhi Tran

Brain injury around the time of birth can lead to life-long medical conditions, such as cerebral palsy.

Hudson Institute’s Dr Robert Galinsky and PhD student Ms Nhi Tran knew creatine – an amino acid derivative that has emerged as a promising neuroprotective agent – was beneficial, but he needed to know why.

Identifying the mechanisms

In collaboration with scientists from the Hudson Institute (Dr Stacey Ellery), RMIT (Prof David Walker) and Deakin University (Prof Rod Snow), Dr Galinsky and Ms Tran reviewed all the preclinical studies that used creatine for neuroprotection, to identify the mechanisms by which creatine promotes neuroprotection.

They also went further – identifying areas that need to be addressed before creatine can be considered for clinical trials in newborns at greatest risk of brain injury.

“Our study is the first systemic review of perinatal and adult studies to define neuroprotective mechanisms and knowledge gaps relating to creatine for neonatal neuroprotection,” said Dr Galinsky.

“We focus on understanding the cellular and physiological pathways that lead to injury in the fetal and newborn brain.

“This has enabled our team to identify brain injury pathways that can be targeted with therapeutic compounds, such as creatine,” he said.

Hudson Institute scientists are protecting vulnerable newborns from complications during birth, in the critical early weeks of life and exploring better treatments for childhood diseases.

Funders | NHMRC, CP Alliance

Collaborators | Prof David Walker, RMIT university; Prof Rod Snow, Deakin University; Dr Stacey Ellery, Hudson Institute

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