Telethon-funded research breakthrough in treatment of newborn babies

The West Australian newspaper medical editor Cathy O’Leary highlights newborn research:

The front page of the West Australian highlights newborn research at the Perron Institute led by Associate Professor Bruno Meloni, thanks to a Telethon Perth Children’s Hospital Research Foundation, highlighted in the lead up to the Telethon7 weekend.

“WA researchers have discovered a compound that could protect the brain cells of vulnerable newborn babies.

The ground-breaking Telethon-funded work uses a peptide called R18, which scientists believe could help treat babies who have a stroke-like event at birth called hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE).

The condition causes a lack of oxygen to the brain and affects three in every 1000 live births. Up to 25 per cent of babies die and many more are left brain-damaged with cerebral palsy, epilepsy or learning disabilities.

R18 has been used in trials with brain cell cultures and pre-clinical models that mimic HIE, and has already shown promise for adult stroke.

While HIE in babies is currently treated with hypothermia therapy to cool the body temperature, it has limitations and is often only available in big tertiary hospitals.

The new research into R18 is one of 13 projects sharing $3.5 million in the latest round of grants from the Telethon Perth Children’s Hospital Research Fund, run by the Health Department and Channel 7 Telethon Trust.

It is being led by Associate Professor Bruno Meloni, a neuroscientist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and the Perron Institute for Neurological and Translational Science.

Professor Meloni said the team would build on promising results by PhD researcher Adam Edwards and he was hopeful R18 could become a way to treat newborns at risk, either with hypothermia or on its own.”

Continue reading the full West Australian newspaper article here