Despite many advances in imaging and brain monitoring, there are few therapeutic options for neurotrauma and outcomes remain universally poor. New treatment approaches and products have been characterized in the laboratory but we need to identify the key reasons for their repeated translational failure in the clinic.

The consequences associated with TBI and SCI are due to the fast propagation of tissue destructive processes, in the minutes and hours following trauma. Most trials of neuroprotective agents have had a period of 8 hours or longer between injury and administration of the drug.

Our research focuses on the development and hyperacute delivery (i.e. on scene within minutes of injury) of new interventions and drugs that promote both neuroregeneration and neuroplasticity (connectivity), which ultimately lead to some restoration of function.

Research achievements to date

We have at present a large preclinical programme of research focused on a polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

DHA administered in the “golden hour” after injury (Figure A) significantly reduces the lesion size in the spinal cord compared to a control model group (Figure B), and yields better neurological outcome.


Research priorities

Our pre-clinical work with DHA has validated this compound in a number of SCI and TBI models. We are also working on novel preparations which could be used in the chronic phase of neurotrauma, to support the restoration of circuits damaged by injury. The most significant challenge remains the development of clinical trials where DHA could be administered to patients by the pre- hospital emergency team and the demonstration that it significantly modifies the neurological outcome after injury.


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