Protecting the Brain After Injury
Many sensitive processes occur in the developing human brain during the late fetal and early childhood periods. This is a vulnerable time and if these processes are disturbed, permanent neurological disabilities can result. Research has shown that the immature brain responds differently than the adult brain to many types of injury.
As the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neuropathology, Dr. Marc Del Bigio is combining his expertise in both the clinical and research arenas to determine how acquired brain disorders, such as hydrocephalus, hemorrhage, and toxin exposure, damage the immature brain and negatively affect its development, resulting in disorders like cerebral palsy.
A practicing neuropathologist, Dr. Del Bigio is recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on hydrocephalus-a common neurological disorder characterized by the expansion of fluid-filled cavities in the centre of the brain. He is using animal models that are faithful to human disorders to determine whether treatment is possible. His models have allowed him to make smooth transitions from human disease to animal modelling at the behavioural, structural, biochemical, and molecular levels, and back again.
Brain swelling is associated with head injury and stroke, and it is often the complication that causes the death of affected people or that contributes to a poor outcome for people suffering these forms of injury. Since 1995, Dr. Del Bigio has been involved in testing different drugs for the treatment of experimental stroke and hydrocephalus. Through interactions with health-care personnel in the critical care and neurosurgical specialities, Dr. Del Bigio hopes that the drugs or approaches discovered through his work will be brought to the level of clinical testing within five years.