NBRI Basic Research

Oligodendrocytes in culture

NBRI basic research efforts are bringing together some of the world's top neuroscientists to focus on problems in brain development that can lead to intellectual and developmental disability, including cerebral palsy. Understanding the precise ways that abnormalities occur could lead to development of new therapies.

Current examples of NBRI Studies

Neural Stem Cell

Defining the “landscape” of the developing human brain

Drs. Arturo Alvarez-Buylla and David Rowitch are collaborating to examine the human fetal and neonatal brain to define the nature of the developing stem cell niche. This information will then be used to establish the impact of various injuries (stroke, infection, prematurity, etc.) on stem cell populations in patients.

 

Understanding causes of Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL)

The Rowitch lab and Colleagues have used novel markers of oligodendrocytes to redefine the pathogenesis of PVL, a condition in premature infants that leads to cerebral palsy. The work shows that oligodendrocytes show impaired ability to differentiate and repair PVL. What are the inhibitory pathways that can block repair of the brain? This question is promoting new research.

 

Discovery of novel neuro-protective mechanisms

The Rowitch lab has recently identified the Sonic hedgehog pathway as protective against the harmful effects of steroids in the neonatal brain. The Ferriero lab has shown that erythripoietin (EPO) is protective in a model of hypoxic neonatal brain injury. Such approaches may one day find their way into clinical use.