Perron Institute research on preterm brain injury receives SCGH support

The potential to reduce disability in preterm babies who suffer brain injury before, during or after birth is one of the major research streams at Western Australia’s Perron Institute.

A recent grant of $29,980 from the 2021-22 Charlies Foundation for Research Mid-Range Grant Program will be directed to a preclinical study as part of this promising work.

Preterm brain injury is one of the leading causes of disability and death in children under five.  

“Surviving preterm infants who suffer from brain injury before, during or after birth can develop severe and permanent neurological disabilities such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy,” said Coordinating Principal Investigator Dr Adam Edwards. 

“Despite significant improvements in neonatal critical care, there remains a lack of therapeutics to protect preterm infants from brain injury.  

“To counter this, we are investigating a peptide drug called poly-arginine18 (R18) we have developed which has demonstrated the ability to significantly reduce brain cell death in preclinical models of preterm infant brain injury.  

“The recent grant from the Charlies Foundation will examine the ability of R18 to prevent brain white matter injury and preserve white matter function after preterm brain injury.

“White matter injury can affect all age groups, from preterm infants to adults and is a hallmark of several neurological disorders such as concussion, traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis.

“If R18 can demonstrate the ability to protect white matter injury, it will pave the way for potential therapeutic applications in both infants and adults,” Dr Edwards said.

Dr Edwards will be working with: Dr Tim Rosenow, Centre for Microscopy Characterisation and Analysis, University of Western Australia; Professor Bruno Meloni, Head of Stroke Laboratory Research, Perron Institute; and Clinical Professor Neville Knuckey, Department of Neurosurgery, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and head of Stroke Research at Perron Institute.